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Objections raised over police body cams

body cameras

Discussions on the use of police body cams and in cars continued at the House legal affairs committee on Wednesday, with the deputy head of the committee saying they are necessary but there needs to be a strict framework in place for their use.

Committee deputy head Fotini Tsiridou said that the issue of the using cameras on police uniforms and in vehicles requires a clear and strict framework regarding the storage of their data, while she also referred to privacy issues.

But she added there are many advantages such as transparency, control of police behaviour, protection of citizens, collection of evidence, and evaluation of police operations in general.

Using the camera footage the court would become an eyewitness to the events, she said, and contribute to the quality and the speed of administering justice, but the necessary safeguards should be found so that the recording of citizens by portable cameras does not impact people’s private lives.

The head of the police union ‘Isotita’, Nikos Loizides said for his part that both the justice ministry and the attorney-general’s office were not ready to propose the final text regarding portable cameras on police uniforms and in patrol cars.

“We will put the cameras on police uniforms to fight crime and to have another testimony for the court and that should be the first motivation for this bill,” he said, adding that there cannot be a condition in the new law that in 30 days the material will be destroyed since complaints are often made against police officers after six months have passed.

At a previous committee meeting on the subject, opposition Akel MP Aristos Damianou said the bill on rolling out body cams on police officers is rife with “contradictions, inconsistencies and has serious potential for being unconstitutional”.

He called it a “very sketchy bill” with more than 10 points that contradict chapter 9 of the Evidence Act.

Damianou also said there had not been enough discussion with police member unions and accused the police of not being entirely honest. Last year when there were discussions over recording witness statements, the police leadership was negative about it citing a number of legal, operational and financial reasons.

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