Met Police BWV

Above: The Met Police standard issue Axon Body Camera. Credit: London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Body-Worn Video (BWV)

Video material shot using a body-worn video-camera (known to the Met Police as BWV and more generally and colloquially as a "bodycam") is becoming a normal component of the Crown's evidence in criminal court proceedings in the UK. The Met Police got BWVs in 2017. The Met's Axon Body Camera is a video camera with functionality much like a Go-Pro or a Nikon Key Mission, that is, it is worn in place on the front of the body--in the case of the Met's it is worn just off the shoulder. For the cop, everything that occurs during one's shift is recorded as a continuous sound and video recording--captured by a neutral observing lens, over which the wearer has no control (important as this means, in theory, that the shot videos cannot be tampered with). The material is uploaded at the end of the cop's shift to a central server automatically as soon as camera is replaced into its charging cradle.

Just as with the rise to ubiquity of the CCTV, which occurred without any public dissent, the bodycam has been accepted (in the UK at least) without any public protest or even grumbling. The cops too, who are now under constant scrutiny as they go about their work, have not complained either. The bodycam renders the PC an automaton of the law: a sort of robocop who carries out every act under the watchful eye of their video-evidence scrutineer. The cop must act according to agreed directives, protocols and procedures at all times for any deviation will be caught on camera and could lead to disciplinary action.

It is surely inevitable that this practice of recording one's shift with a body-cam will soon extend far beyond cops. It will become commonplace in many lines of work, and it follows that some ordinary persons will also begin to wear the same--purely out of choice--even when not at work. J.G. Ballard predicted, several decades ago, that soon-enough, the family will not gather at the end of the day to watch the BBC News at Six, but will instead, sit together and review, the video highlights of each other's day as captured on video. In other words, the end-of-day on-screen entertainment will be the video highlights of one's own life.

(5 August 2018)