Victoria Police Can Legally Use Body-Worn Surveillance Cameras

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Victoria Police to roll out body worn cameras as part of $A596 million package to enhance powers - image by Herald Sun
Victoria Police to roll out body worn cameras as part of $A596 million package to enhance powers - image by Herald Sun

POLICE in Victoria can now legally use body-worn cameras on duty after legislation was passed to support the changes as part of a $A596 million Public Safety Package to give police powers, resources and tools required to keep the community safe.

The Justice Legislation (Body-worn Cameras and Other Matters) Bill 2017 is the first tranche of legislation to support the use of body‐worn cameras when the devices are rolled out to frontline police next year.

Field-testing of the cameras is expected in the first half of next year. The use of cameras will bring Victoria into line with other states, including New South Wales and Queensland, where the equipment is already in use.

Currently, the use of body-worn camera footage could constitute an offence if police were to inadvertently record a private conversation.

The Labor Government will amend the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 to create an exception that enables police to use the devices lawfully and ensure the footage is appropriately protected.

The reforms will pave the way for a subsequent Bill to support the use of body-worn cameras for recording statements in family violence matters and allow statements to be used by victims as their evidence-in-chief.

“This is the first tranche of legislation to support the use of body-worn cameras for frontline police,” said Attorney-General, Martin Pakula.

“We will introduce further reforms to allow family violence victims to record statements which can be used in court.”

According to Minister for Police, Lisa Neville, body worn cameras will be a critical tool to respond to family violence issues and other crimes in the community.

“This legislation ensures that police have the powers they need, as we prepare to roll this technology out across Victoria.” ♦