With the use of Body Worn Video becoming more common place across the industry, TPSO magazine asked industry leader and founder of Audax, Adam Liardet, to give us an overview of the growing body cam phenomenon……
Belgium has a serious problem, verbal or even physical aggression against security and rescue personnel has, unfortunately, become common place and is now ‘normal’ behaviour in Belgium. More and more paramedics, fire fighters, security staff and police officers have to deal with this behaviour on a daily and even hourly basis from members of the public that they are trying to assist.
The police in the zone Brussels-Capital-Ixelles has been increasingly confronted with violence against police officers over the last four years. Figures show an increase of some 400%[i]. Officers are then on paid sick leave while they recover and thus aren’t capable of being on the streets providing the security the area desperately needs. The aggression has got so bad that often drink or drug intoxication is not the ‘catalyst’ as many people expect it to be. Trying to use this as a poor excuse to ‘shrug off’ this behaviour is not an excuse to try and make it acceptable. No Attack on any Personnel in their place of work is acceptable, Ever!
I have used Belgium and Brussels as an example for two reasons, firstly because it is a place that is rarely out of the Newspapers currently. You may be aware that a vote on our country’s future happened some 3 years ago and to date (November 2019………. Ed.) nothing seems to have been done about it (apart from a lot of talking by politicians). A similar comparison could be drawn to attacks on front line workers – lots of talk over the years but very little done about it! Secondly because it is also an example to show that other countries have exactly the same problems and issues as the UK. Disrespect and aggression towards security and emergency staff is still ongoing and, in some areas and countries, it is getting worse. One solution (amongst others) has been the introduction of Body cameras, everyone knows what these are to some extent but there is a great deal of conflicting advice and a large range of products to choose from, so, in this short article my aim is to try and provide readers with hopefully something new.
“Audax® first started with BWV product demonstrations in July 2005 at a G8 Summit and led the World in 2006 with our joint project with Devon & Cornwall Police / UK Home Office which led to the first ever standards and guidance document for BWV being produced. This mass trial of 200 x Audax cameras produced some enlightening results, with a massive drop in complaints against the police and a reduction in violent Crime.
Several studies have been conducted on the impact of body-worn video equipment, and they found considerable potential benefits to their use. The studies showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video equipment, and the technology is effective at preventing escalation during police-public interactions — both abusive behaviour towards police and unnecessary use of force by police. The researchers said that the knowledge that events are being recorded creates self-awareness in all participants during police interactions. This is the critical component that turns body-worn video into a “preventative treatment.”
However, as we have often found, rushing out to buy “any old” Body camera will not be the solution.
BWV Cameras –are they all the same?
BWV Cameras are a specialised tool to ‘capture’ evidence in a secure manner. Adventure & Leisure Cameras are not fit for purpose and do not have the security software and memory security to ensure that video and images haven’t been altered and manipulated (Your mobile phone I would also put into this category). They do not offer automated docking stations and secure back office software to ensure and prove that evidence hasn’t been manipulated and is acceptable in Court. Basically, what is the point of paying for something and strapping it to you when you can’t prove that you haven’t manipulated the evidence? What is the point of having something that only has a 2-hour battery and you can’t turn on when you are wearing gloves? Because of GDPR and Privacy it is against the law to be recording all the time and recording private conversations. So, again, what is the point, after potentially being abused, then turning on your camera – to have missed all the evidence? More importantly what is going through any employers mind to be providing a product under the guise of “duty of care” that they have purchased from the internet (or a distributor that is just re-badging Chinese Grey imports) that is often illegally imported as it has no real safety certifications in their name such as a CE certificate, or for the latest cameras that live stream video you are placing, over your heart, a product that has had no independent EMC testing undertaken on it? All of our cameras are certified above and beyond the standard CE mark, with additional EMC testing certification so our customers receive piece of mind.
It is always a good idea not to judge someone’s wealth on the car they drive, but to be honest a Body Camera “snob” like me, does judge a company by the camera they wear. While you make an effort over the recruitment of your staff and their CV, the appearance of your staff and your corporate image is also vitally important for front of house duties etc, but having some easily recognisable, low-cost Chinese “Junk” on your chest ruins the message you are trying to portray. I would suggest that you check out the pedigree of the company you are buying from – ‘time in industry is not the same as time in BWV’. Experience matters.
Thus, provided that the ‘output’ is ‘captured’ on systems that are ‘fit for purpose’, what differentiates between the manufacturers as after all the specific aspects of the camera itself (resolution, field of view, on-board storage, battery life) vary very little from manufacturer to manufacturer. Even when looking at the different physical attributes of the cameras, they all have a similar look and feel. For example, some ‘manufacturers’ suggest that a front facing screen is a deterrent, where as some customers have evidence that offenders ‘act up’ to the screen and it actually escalates conflict. Experience and personal preference come to the fore. As such, the main areas that UK/USA manufacturers are competing on are pricing strategies and data management strategies.
Security and GDPR
Numerous BWV cameras are manufactured in the Far East and imported into the EU. These are then re-badged as ‘Western’ and sold by so called ‘experts’ in their field. Firstly, the import is often illegal without the correct safety certifications being obtained and the software having been written in the Far East is often insecure. It arrives with numerous drivers to install and you having to log into servers located in the Far East for product authorisation and registration. Back doors in the software and ‘hacking’ vulnerabilities are huge. I am aware of a number of Live streaming products that while the evidence on the camera may be secure, the “live stream” certainly isn’t and can be “hacked” simply with software freely and legally obtained on a basic Google Search. So, security is a major issue and I would question GDPR compliance here too?
Live Streaming Video
A number of ‘new’ cameras offer Live streaming – this allows the ability to live stream video and will provide managers and control room commanders with live views during incidents. The majority of other BWV suppliers say they offer live streaming when actually they are using an insecure ‘Tethered connection’ to a mobile phone which quickly drains the phone battery and often “locks up” the phone not allowing calls and other functions. The Apps Provided are often badly adapted from Car Crash Cameras and not fit for purpose. This is both a costly solution and an insecure pointless one requiring officers to carry too much equipment and having an increased chance of something going wrong. Audax also offer live streaming, but we don’t use Mobile phones and everything from storage of the video to the actual live video stream is AES 256 Encrypted for security.
Audax® cameras are the Benchmark of the Body Worn Video (BWV) Camera market. Ours are feature rich, highly competitive and designed to meet the British Standard 8593:2017 on the deployment and use of BWV and be in full compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They pack high security, AES 256 encryption, GPS mapping and lone worker safety features into rugged and lightweight products. Our Flagship camera contains an enhanced staff ‘safety blanket’ alarm feature, with capability for remote access, remote memory wipe and even a “man down” function as examples that set us apart.
Industry Pedigree and DEMS
Finally, and what is always forgotten in the rush to equip officers with cameras, is the simplicity and usability by the officers themselves. What sets us apart is the fact that the Audax® team is predominantly composed of service veterans, former police officers and security professionals which has meant that we would never manufacture or supply a system that we wouldn’t have been happy with if we were still doing the job. We have been there! What is the point of deploying cameras if it increases the work load on the staff and doesn’t improve productivity? You require secure robust and simple Back Office Procedures and software to manage the evidence. This is Back Office DEMS (Digital Evidence Management) software. This is often the most expensive element of a BWV system, and where most companies make their ‘real’ income with expensive annual licence fees and other associated expenses. Some companies might even provide 500 x cameras for £1 as an incentive, however over the annual licence fee contract of 3 years you will pay eye watering figures for DEMS and Video Storage! This is not the Audax® way! We Provide a secure feature rich back office software with no Audax® annual licence fee. This is a complete step change in the market and completely removes customer concerns about costly add-ons. We can also provide redaction software for FOI and subject access requests. Unlike others requiring large, up front capital outlays, we can provide this on a PAYG basis. Thus providing the cover and yet not becoming a massive budget planning unknown.
In Summary provided that the output is captured on systems that are fit for purpose, Body Worn Video (BWV) systems provide compelling video and audio that is fully admissible and increasingly used as vital evidence in court. Body worn video systems are now critical technology for reducing threats, violence and complaints against security, police officers and other BWV users, improving policy and transparency in public relations, reducing offender complaints and speeding up the administration of justice. These results have also been confirmed by further studies by Police Forces in the USA and Dr Barak Ariel, who is based at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, said: “I cannot think of any [other] single intervention in the history of policing that dramatically changed the way that officers behave, the way that suspects behave, and the way they interact with each other.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37502136.
Or come and see us at
OSPAs – Thought Leadership Summit 26th February, 2020 at the Royal Lancaster London Hotel
BAPCO – The British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Annual Conference and Exhibition – 10-11 March 2020 Ricoh Arena Coventry
[i]Source https://www.brusselstimes.com/brussels/78755/violence-against-brussels-police-quadrupled-in-four-years/ Saturday 17th November 2019
Source https://www.brusselstimes.com/brussels/78755/violence-against-brussels-police-quadrupled-in-four-years/ Saturday 17th November 2019
Audax® were the First UK Security SME ever funded by the European Union H2020 Instrument which resulted in Bio-AX® meeting both BS EN 8593:2017 and the requirements of the UK Home Office Technical Guidance published in July 2018. Audax® were the Communications Systems Award winner at the Counter Terror Business awards and winners of the “Most Innovative in Security Technology” at the Innovation & Excellence Awards 2019. We are Members of Made in Britain, the register of British Manufacturers and BAPCO the leading UK based Association for all professionals using or developing Public Safety technology. Our Membership of ADS (ADS is the Premier Trade Organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors) coupled with our association with HM Government and the Welcome to the UK campaign all go to show our further engagement in the Global market. Organisations purchase from us due to our Compliant ‘for Evidential Purpose’ devices, coupled with our longevity in business and Pedigree. Audax® are renowned for innovation and respected for our competitive pricing and technology being superior to that of many competitors. We manufacture and design our products to be a ‘Security and Privacy by design’ product with the use of AES 256 Encryption.
Adam Liardet – Managing Director & Founder of Audax
A Former Royal Green Jacket having served in NI and Bosnia and who now lives in Brussels. Working with organisations globally he has this year managed a Police roll out of 5000 x cameras, and alongside running the Company, is principally involved in design and innovation