ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police have decided to arrange body worn cameras for personnel deputed at police checkposts. Footage from these cameras will be connected to the Safe City system and will be used as evidence in court.

Body worn cameras, or body cameras, are a part of policing equipment in many developed countries. They are used to record events involving police or law enforcement officials, worn on the torso of the body of the official’s uniform.

Assistant Inspector General of Police (Operations) (AIG) Sardar Ghias Gul told the media that it had been decided to upgrade the Islamabad police and bring the force up to international standard.

“We usually receive complaints from people about police officials misbehaving with them at checkposts. On the other hand, police officials claim citizens misbehaved and refused to cooperate with them,” he said.

20 cameras will be arranged at first, and as more are acquired they will be used for operations

He added that thana culture would be abolished in the capital, as directed by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammad Aamir Zulfiqar Khan.

“Body worn videos (BWV) will play a vital role in achieving this goal. It will become possible to have live coverage of incidents and those videos will also be used as evidence. Because of GPS, it will also become possible to check the location of officials and get live coverage of mobs etc so that appropriate arrangements can be made in advance,” he said.

AIG Gul said that 20 cameras have been obtained to check their performance, resolution and results. They will become functional in the next two weeks and the number of cameras in use will be increased with time, he said.

“Initially it has been decided that officials wearing BWVs will be deputed at police checkposts and later cameras will be used during police operations,” he added.

A senior police official who is not authorised to speak on the record said that police officials are produced as witnesses in developed countries and their statements are considered authentic.

“However, in Pakistani courts, suspects’ lawyers do not accept police officials as witnesses and their statements become doubtful. By introducing BWVs we will be able to provide footage of operations as evidence. The cameras will be linked to the Safe City project so during operations it will become possible to provide additional force or take necessary steps in time,” he said.

The official also claimed that people sometimes misbehave with officials at checkposts and file complaints against them.

“Now footage and audio recordings of them will be produced in case of any complaints. If the police official is found guilty it will become possible to take action against them, or a case will be registered against the citizen,” he said.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Waqaruddin Syed told Dawn that Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmad Shah had directed the police to arrange the cameras so the footage could be used as evidence.

“As the cameras are very expensive it has been decided to use 20 in the first phase and their number will be increased with the passage of time. Initially, they will be used at the 20 most important checkposts, and later during police operations and so on,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2019