Police Ombudsman recommends head-mounted cameras for armed officers

Published Date: Sep 2023

The Police Ombudsman has recommended that Armed Response Officers should be provided with head-mounted cameras to ensure improved footage of weapons discharges.
It follows an investigation which found that footage recorded by the shoulder-mounted camera of an officer who fired a Taser had been obstructed, compromising its evidential value.
Mrs Marie Anderson said: “Body-worn video provides valuable evidence of the circumstances in which armed officers choose to use significant levels of force.
“In this case the footage was obstructed by the officer’s other police equipment, largely due to the camera having been mounted on the chest/shoulder area.”
The recommendation for head-mounted cameras is currently being considered by the PSNI.
Mrs Anderson made the recommendation following an investigation which found that an officer had been justified in firing Taser during an incident in north Belfast in August 2021.
Officers had been deployed after police received a 999 call stating that a man had made threats to kill a family member.

Police located his car outside the home of his former partner. A number of children were registered as living at the address.
Armed response officers were advised that the man had a history of violence, was immune to the effects of CS Spray, and had been involved in a previous incident in which it had taken eight police officers to restrain him.
Officers advised Police Ombudsman investigators that the man appeared to have been intoxicated, was irate, had blood dripping from a hand, and was holding a long slim item. They said they heard him shouting at someone else in the house.

The officer who fired the Taser said she did so when he went to re-enter the property after being told to come out with his hands on his head. Her account was corroborated by body-worn video footage and colleagues.
The first discharge missed but a second connected and the man was then successfully restrained by her colleagues.

The officer said she acted to prevent the man harming himself or others. She added that she had considered other options, including the use of PAVA incapacitant spray, an AEP baton round and her handheld baton, but considered Taser to be the most appropriate means of resolving the situation.
Having considered the evidence, Mrs Anderson found that the use of Taser had been “reasonable, necessary and proportionate” in the circumstances, and noted that the officer had adopted a “graduated and flexible approach” to the situation in compliance with police instruction.
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