The Malta Police Force is undergoing a ‘Transformation Strategy’ in an effort to modernise its main roles and functions. The extensive work performed within the force is proving to be fruitful, and is also reflected in the increase in public trust, increasing from 54% to 58%, as confirmed by the recent Eurobarometer survey. This same survey also demonstrated the decrease of 8%, from 38% to 30%, of those who do not have trust in the Force.
Results are, undoubtedly, not achieved overnight. In fact, during the past months the Government invested almost €5 million in new initiatives, focusing on a more service-oriented policing, rather than the conventional disciplinary force we have become accustomed to as a people and country.
We have seen major internal developments within the Force, the collaboration in continuous professional development with studies at the University of Malta, and the ongoing Community Policing project.
But perhaps one of the most noteworthy developments has been the introduction of bodycams on Police uniforms, with an investment of around €1 million. A first of its kind, this project is committing the Force to become more transparent and accountable in its operations.
With all systems and equipment in place, the bodycams are now being used by every operational police officer. One of its main features is that the device is activated in an instant manner once there is contact with the public.
What are the benefits of bodycams?
In addition to the reinforcement of the concepts of accountability and authority, these bodycams provide various other benefits, which include the following:
- Allegations about bad policing should decrease due to hard-evidence being provided;
- Investigations will be strengthened with audio-visual evidence, including critical moments such as when police officers need to act on reports of domestic violence;
- More efficiency in the judicial process;
- Improved interaction between the public and the Police;
- Enhancement of the Police’s interface with the public;
- Availability of footage of real-life scenarios for better police training.
The Police Force has also introduced an internal policy that makes it mandatory for all operational police officers to wear the bodycam as soon as they report for work. Therefore, when a Police Officer knows or has reason for a potential interaction with the public, particularly in cases of prevention, investigation, and or detection of criminal offenses, bodycams are to be activated automatically.
How do they work?
These cameras have a number of innovative features, which include:
- Buffering – when the camera is switched to event mode, it starts recording immediately at two minutes in advance in order to be factual with every possible scenario;
- Smart holsters – Bodycams offer automated features to Police Officers in critical moments, such as when there is the need for use of firearms or tasers. Realistically, if an officer finds himself in a situation where a firearm is needed, switching on the bodycam is the last thing on his mind. Yet it is crucial to record these moments for the sake of evidence and this feature ensures that the camera is turned on automatically.
- Multiple body-warn cameras on site – Other smart features include automation sensors which detect other bodycams in the area and automatically switch on if one is activated, therefore aiding multiple police officers working together in an operation.
- Bookmark Button – This allows officers to note a particular moment, such as when an altercation occurs.
- Live Operations Mode – can be streamed live. This feature can be particularly helpful during high-security operations as it provides a live-feed of what is happening on the ground.
Have you seen these bodycams in action?