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Body camera evidence crucial in securing convictions

Body camera
Body camera

Evidence from newly-introduced body cameras worn by Sheffield City Council’s parking enforcement officers has been crucial in pursuing two prosecutions against the same man.

Police were able to launch two separate prosecutions against Baldeep Singh, 34, of Pickard Crescent, Richmond, due to footage on the body cameras, the first-time evidence of this kind has been used in Sheffield.

At Sheffield Magistrates Court in March, Mr Singh was given 120 hours’ community service, ordered to pay £200 court costs and £100 compensation to a civil enforcement officer.

He was charged with a section 4 public order offence after an incident outside the Devonshire Chippy on Division Street on 1 October last year.

Singh was back in court on May 22 after a second incident outside the chip shop on 31 October last year where the court heard he used threatening, abusive or insulting words with intent to cause a person to fear that immediate unlawful violence would  be used against them.

He was ordered to undertake community work and pay £170 costs.

Councillor Bob Johnson, Cabinet Member for Planning and Development at Sheffield City Council, said: “We introduced these cameras to make people safer doing their jobs in Sheffield and to ensure that our civil enforcement officers aren’t subject to harassment and abuse when they carry out their vital work.

“Thankfully, these are isolated incidents but rest assured that if the evidence is there, we will use footage to ensure our hard-working teams can do their job without fear.”

The Council’s Parking Services Civil Enforcement Officers tackle the city’s problem parkers to help keep the city moving and school children safe. They started wearing the light-weight devices on their jacket pockets last year.

The team, which operates across the city, can often encounter difficult situations in the course of their day-to-day activities. Civil Enforcement Officers can now choose when to film using the state-of-the-art devices – and material can be used in criminal proceedings if necessary.

Between 2011 and 2015, the number of violent incidents against civil enforcement officers increased year on year. During 2014/15, 76 incidents were reported, which is more than twice the number of those reported in 2011/12.

The devices can capture high-quality images close up, including audio recording, and work at night in low light.

The cameras won’t be used to provide evidence to support the issuing of parking fines. They are solely for the prevention and detection of crime and are visible on an officer’s uniform.

The Civil Enforcement Officers have received training in the use of the body-worn cameras, and the devices are only used when the officer feels under threat. Devices are securely encrypted and they are password protected, so if stolen data is secure and can’t be deleted.