Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Lancashire Constabulary rolls out force wide use of body cameras

Hampshire Police have been using Body Worn Video since 2008 and began extending its use at the end of July. Lancashire is now rolling out its own BWV. Image: Body Worn Video Steering Group 

Lancashire Constabulary has joined some 20 other UK police forces and begun to roll out its use of body worn video technology, in a bid to capture the best possible evidence and promote public reassurance across the county.

The force has already piloted the scheme using cameras for a small number of operations, but the cameras are now being utilised across the whole force.

Already used by some private companies and by Hampshire Police since 2008, earlier this year, interim findings on the use of Body Worn Video in a test area on the Isle of Wight indicated high levels of public support for their use and benefits to frontline policing.

A total of 150 cameras have been distributed to immediate response teams who will use the equipment to capture evidence of criminal behaviour.

Inspector Mark Baines of Lancashire Police said: “Police forces across the country have already embraced body worn cameras and have identified the potential benefits of their use.

“Here in Lancashire I hope that the wider use of the cameras will promote public reassurance, capture best evidence, prevent harm and deter people from committing crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Whilst offering reassurance to members of the public, safeguarding witnesses and victims, the cameras should also increase officers’ safety.

“The cameras can be used to capture evidence of criminal behaviour that can help to ‘set the scene’ for a court at a later date and reduce reliance on victim evidence, particularly those who may be vulnerable and reluctant to attend court.

“By capturing this evidence, officers should be able to spend less time writing statements and completing paperwork at the station, which in turn will allow them to spend more time patrolling and responding to incidents in the community.

“We will work with the community as wider use of the technology becomes common practice and anybody with concerns about being filmed will be able to discuss this with officers.”

Only specially trained, uniformed officers will wear the cameras and strict guidelines are in place to ensure that the devices are used correctly and the retention of any footage will comply with legislation and national recommendations.

The cameras will not be permanently switched on and members of the public will be informed as soon as practicable that they are being recorded.

Officers will ‘dock’ their cameras at the end of each shift and recordings will be uploaded to a secure server and the memory of the camera is then wiped ready for the next user. The images will be deleted after 30 days unless they are required for evidential purposes.

The use of body worn video will be reviewed after three months with the potential of even more cameras being used across the county.

"In theory, this technology could improve the quantity, quality and independence of the evidence they capture, and increase police transparency," noted Dr Paul Quinton, Principal Research Officer at the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Criminal Justice Studies earlier this year.

However, he did sound a note of caution in his early comments.

"There is, however, relatively limited evidence on BWV's use and effectiveness," he said. "Several local pilots have been carried out that highlight the potential advantages of BWV, but none have provided direct evidence of their impact.

"A recent randomised controlled trial carried out in the US has shown that BWV can reduce police use of force and public complaints. We now need to build the UK evidence base."

It would appear that guidance on the use of BWV by police officers has not been updated since 2007 (PDF Link)

• The Body Worn Video Steering Group is an End User focused community which aims to create debate around the future of Body Worn Video systems in the public and private sectors.

More cuts ahead for Lancashire County Council

Lancashire County Hall. Photo: Johnny English (Creative Commons)

Lancashire County Council's Cabinet is to propose a budget to steer the council through the next three years, including a further £160m of savings. 

Councillors are working closely with staff to produce a budget strategy that will be published for consultation in November and seeks to set out the council's draft budget plans through until April 2018. 

The council has previously agreed £140m out of the £300m savings the council needs to deliver between 2014 and 2018, and the remainder will be identified in the new budget proposal. 

Deputy leader of the council, David Borrow, explained: "Unfortunately the continued cuts in council funding by central government mean that we still have further to go in reducing the county council's budget and the service level it can provide to our communities. 

"However, we're trying to look at things from a perspective of what would be most important if we were to start from the beginning, with a view to shaping what will in many ways be a new and very different county council that is set up to deliver those priorities. 

"One thing that won't change is that we will do everything we can to protect those services that look after the most vulnerable members of society." 

The Cabinet will present its budget proposal at its meeting on 6 November, following which there will be a period of consultation for people to give feedback. 

The £160m of savings to be included in the budget are in addition to the £532m already delivered or approved by the council since national funding reductions began in 2010. 

The council is only required to set its budget annually but Councillor Borrow says there are benefits to planning ahead: "We hope that setting a three-year budget, rather than the annual budget most councils will deliver, will give our residents and staff some certainty about the future. 

"Some of the messages will be difficult to hear but doing things this way will help give people a more rounded view of where the council is going and what to expect in the longer term." 

The budget process concludes in February 2015, when a meeting of the Full Council will be asked to approve a final budget for 2015-18. 

Morecambe Bay Health Campaigners astonished by MP’s claim group is 'fictitious'

Clearly not cardboard cuts outs! Campaigners protesting outside the Royal Lancaster Infirmary last month. Photo: No Health Sell-Off at Morecambe Bay

Health campaigners from the campaign group called No Health Sell-Off at Morecambe Bay are astonished by Morecambe and Lunesdale David Morris MP’s bizarre and preposterous claims that they are a fictitious campaign and have called on the MP to meet with them to prove the group is genuine.

The last time the campaign group invited the MP, who is defending a majority of 866 in the next General Election to attend a meeting, he refused.

Jean Taylor of No Health sell-Off Morecambe Bay said: “Given that David Morris has such a slim majority you would think he would want to engage with his constituents rather than pretend they are make believe.  David Morris should be talking to us about the sell-off of key NHS services but instead he has resorted to bizarre measures.

"We have asked David Morris to attend one of our meetings but he has refused. Members of our campaign group have tried to meet with him about their concerns about the NHS but he has refused to meet them.

"We know that people from across the area are really worried about the impact of the government’s privatisation agenda on the NHS, with over 9000 residents signing a petition against the privatisation of the pharmacies at Morecambe Bay.

"David Morris is ignoring us at his electoral peril and playing silly games in tabloid newspapers when he should be representing his constituents and passing our concerns about the NHS to David Cameron.

"David Morris claims the Transatlantic Trade Partnership will not affect the NHS in any way shape or form but today Lord Livingston, a government Minister in David Morris’s own party, admitted that the NHS is part of this trade deal. This MP is clearly out-of-touch."

Perhaps the group shouldn't be too hard on Mr Morris. After all, he's clearly a very busy man if his latest 'newsletter' to constituents is anything to go by in which he claims he has pretty much achieved everything he set out to do at the last election.

"The way it's written you'd think he was building a local link road himself without the help of anyone," said a disgruntled recipient of the leaflet, who admits to being a little confused at Morecambe's change of name on the leaflet's front page, and other typographical errors in the publication which noted the saving of Hornby School but failed to mention the closure of Skerton High.

It seems Mr Morris might be able to leap tall buildings and cut hair, but he's too busy to do some basic proof reading, let alone talk to his constituents.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Lancashire people to have their say on 'living well'

People across Lancashire are being invited to share their views on how or whether they have been affected by the country's recent economic problems. 

The survey is being run by Lancashire Fairness Commission, an independent body which aims to make recommendations for a fairer Lancashire by a critical examination of the inequalities across the county. 

By visiting www.lancashire.gov.uk/fairness, people can have their say on what needs to change for everyone to live well in Lancashire. In particular, the survey is looking at whether Lancastrians are able to make the most of their potential, and whether they have fair access to education, jobs, services and homes along with fair access to good quality enviro! nments and to financial resources. 

Other questions covered by the survey include whether life expectancy is influenced by social status, gender, sexuality, age, race, or where they live in the county. 

"This survey builds on the first one we launched in early September on ‘Starting Well’," explained the Very Rev. Christopher Armstrong, Dean of Blackburn and independent chair of Lancashire Fairness Commission. "Our aim is to make sure everyone has the same opportunities no matter where they live in our county. 

"This survey is an important part of our plans to help us to understand and to improve fairness. 

"We recognise that issues such as where people live, family circumstances and incomes can all have a huge effect on a person's ability to maximise their economic and social potential. 

"Your opinion is therefore very important to us, and every opinion counts. Please take a few minutes to fill in the online survey and help us to make sure Lancashire is a fairer place for everyone." 

Lancashire Fairness Commission was established in June 2014 and will be getting evidence on the three themes of ‘Starting Well’, ‘Living Well’ and ‘Ageing Well’ over the next few months. 

As well as the independent chair, the commission includes representatives from Lancashire County Council; district councils; NHS organisations; other public, community and voluntary agencies; academics and local business leaders. 

Go "Behind the Badge" with Lancashire Police

Have you ever wanted to know how the police respond to major incidents in the county, or been interested to see what training the police dogs receive? Would you like to learn some of the secrets behind Crime Scene Investigations? Well now's your chance.

Lancashire Constabulary is holding a force open day  on Sunday 28th September between 10.00am and 4.00pm at Police Headquarters in Hutton, Preston. They'll open its doors to the people of Lancashire inviting them to take a look at what happens ‘behind the badge’.

The event is being funded by money seized from criminals in Lancashire and so is free to the public where they can ‘access to all areas’ to understand how crimes are investigated and see the work the force is doing to keep the communities of Lancashire safe.

Visitors will be given the opportunity to speak to officers and find out about specialist areas of investigation; learn more about the history of policing in Lancashire; and take a journey through how technology has changed over the decades.

There will be interactive activities for both adults and children on the day, including demonstrations from the police dogs and horses, displays of the police vehicles and classic cars, and visitors can even play their part in identifying clues at a crime scene.

There will also be exhibitions from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency, Coastguard, Army, G4S (prison van), Bay Search and Rescue and Bowland Trust Mountain Rescue.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: “Events such as these are vital in building up openness, trust, understanding and confidence in our communities and better still, this one is being paid for by the criminals themselves.

“The day will provide local people with the opportunity to speak to officers and police staff from many different areas of policing, including Neighbourhood Policing, Rural and Wildlife Crime, the Special Constabulary, Armed Response, Mounted Branch, the Dog Unit, Public Protection and the Serious and Organised Crime Unit. “We hope as well as being a lot of fun for visitors of all ages that the day will give people a real insight into policing in Lancashire and lift the lid on areas of policing that the public may know very little about.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: "I am delighted the public will have the chance to see first-hand the breadth of work that Lancashire Constabulary undertakes and gain a real insight into the different roles officers and staff play in keeping the public safe.

"I will be there along with staff from my office, showcasing some of the projects we are involved in and the work we are driving forward to benefit Lancashire's residents. This is a real opportunity for local people to learn more about my role, and I hope to see as many people as possible there."

Lancashire Police @LancsPolice will be tweeting live from the event using #behindthebadge

The event is free and is open to everybody but registration is needed. Please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lancashire-constabulary-open-day-2014-tickets-12823570645 for more information and to register for tickets.

Free parking will also be provided at Enterprise Drive in Leyland, where a park and ride service will transport people to the event. Alternatively people can attend on foot or by bicycle. Please note the only parking on site will be for those people registered disabled and spaces are limited.