Spanish police have started wearing body cameras to record their interactions with the public in a bid for more security, which is on the rise in Europe and the US.
The Home Office said the bodycam was launched on Monday and would be “rolled out gradually for all police officers” without saying how many were involved in the initial phase.
Spain’s public television TVE said the tiny cameras were attached to officers’ uniforms and could be activated either manually or automatically.
Spain’s main police union, JUPOL, hailed the move on Twitter, saying it was in response to “a request from the union”.
“It will guarantee security, both for us to avoid any kind of misrepresentation of our interventions, and for the public, who can clearly see the professionalism of the police and that there is no abuse of power or excesses,” union spokesman Pablo Perez said TVE.
Armed forces in Europe and the United States are increasingly turning to this technology to increase transparency following a string of fatal shootings and other lawsuits against police over the past decade.
“The cameras are used as part of public safety protocols to record everything that happens in the event of an unjustified breach during an operation,” Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska told TVE ahead of the launch.
“If they are activated, then to ensure security and to be really transparent, so that the actions of the officials can be viewed and verified,” said the minister.
“It means security for both the police and the public,” he added, hinting that in time they would also become available to Spain’s rural Guardia Civil.
France began trialling bodycams, known as “pedestrian cameras,” in 2013 before gradually rolling them out in 2015, which was welcomed by police but greeted with skepticism by rights groups, who said there was no guarantee they would always be activated would.
Police in London and New York also piloted credit card-sized cameras attached to their uniforms in 2014, with the technology being phased out over the following years.
But the cameras had mixed success. The lack of a legal obligation for their use may also limit their scope for detecting police misconduct.
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