As High Court Enforcement experts we are digging in to the deployment of Body Worn Cameras (BWC) in our blog postings. The UK’s Ministry of Justice is set to make the wearing of BWC’s mandatory for all enforcement agents operating in England and Wales following a Justice Committee report.
As is often the case, the “devil is in the detail” and this is going to be a policy area that is going to need a lot of scratching of heads. It is not going to be sufficient to leave it to industry associations to decide what is going to be needed although we are sure they will try.
On LINKEDIN prominent members of the enforcement agent community are saying loudly that they want a voice in how a BWC should be worn and used and frankly we think they’re right. One such commentator said “The only people who should be working on this with the MOJ is the enforcement agents wearing them. It’s us who wear them and it’s us dealing with the public and 9/10 it’s us answering the complaints. If I’m the one being expected to wear one I want people to speak with me so they can understand from an enforcement agent perspective not people behind desks who’ve never had the pleasure of either wearing one or doing the job. Why aren’t these people asking the many enforcement agents predominantly self-employed and directors of their own companies their opinions?”
Enforcement agents are increasingly self-employed and are not represented directly in either CIVEA, the HCEOA, or IRRV. Our CEO, Claire Sandbrook, has always thought that this community of professionals should be allowed to join the HCEOA as a first step to providing a professional association status for their role. Indeed, Shergroup’s nationwide panel is growing month on month with enforcement agents who are sub-contractors and who fit our model of working in times and days to suit them. This also fits with Shergroup’s approach to #smartworking. Through our training and compliance initiatives, we have devised a Body Worn Camera policy for our sub-contractors which will continue to evolve as we include their feedback into what works and what doesn’t when using this wearable tech.
And if anyone is out there thinking this is a lightweight subject you have only to find out how police forces across the UK and US are grappling with the implications of this new tech. A recent report out of Chicago’s Police Department shows how the wearing of cameras can be subject to all sorts of failings, including the random use of the camera which leads to key pieces of information not being captured (see https://cbsloc.al/2MIwDlY ). These issues will be duplicated here in the UK and in the enforcement industry unless we review and learn from other agencies both in our own country and from abroad.
The Government has said what it wants for BWC in the enforcement industry, and we don’t disagree. We were the first company to create data in the form of photographs and film coming back from High Court enforcement. But this tech and how it is deployed is a huge leap forward. It requires thoughtful leadership, and technological answers to create the best possible outcome for all stakeholders including judgment debtors and those caught up in the enforcement process.