Police in Britain have added a new high tech aid to their crime fighting tools. It is a miniature digital camera designed to be worn on a police officer's head. The "Robocam," as it is known, allows officers to have their hands free to deal with offenders, while recording evidence against them. Catherine Drew joined a police patrol to see the new technology in action for today's Searching for Solutions report.
It sees whatever they see. The tiny camera mounted above the ear is like a third eye for a police officer, but one with a major advantage.
It records whatever the police officer looks at straight onto a portable hard drive, and can be played back instantly.
Police say the cameras prove invaluable in recording the scene of a dispute or police raid.
Sergeant Mark Worthington of Northamptonshire Police says, "We use it in the nighttime economy when we're policing our town centers, pubs and clubs. We can use it for incidents of domestic violence to record the scene when we get there. And we can use it for anti-social behavior when we're dealing with issues of youths on the street."
Police Constable Mumnoon Ahmad says he has noticed people react to him differently when he wears it.
"For example when they went to a fair a lot of juveniles there, all messing around all of a sudden they saw the police. Okay, they calmed down but they did carry on to a degree. But when it became obvious their behavior was being recorded with this head cam, it was amazing the transformation."
After evaluating several pilot projects, the British Home Office will provide police with an extra $6 million to fund a national rollout of the head camera technology.
The resulting video can be shaky, but the Home Office says it has led to an increase in successful prosecutions.
And in a country with the highest density of close circuit television cameras in the world, where the average Briton is recorded up to 300 times a day, privacy advocates worry that even more surveillance will infringe upon personal liberties. They question where and for how long the footage will be kept.
However, a couple of citizens at a shopping mall provided their thoughts. "It's a valid argument that it's a bit 'Big Brotherish.' However, if you're a law-abiding citizen, why should you worry?" "I think it's a necessary thing. Very handy for later on in court appearances, et cetera and time saving and the evidence is there for all to be seen."
Whatever privacy concerns may exist, the successful trial of the headcams means they are likely to become a common sight.