Belfast Telegraph

Police body cameras help convict thug: First domestic abuser prosecuted thanks to new PSNI weapon

By Donna Deeney

Body cameras worn by police officers to gather evidence in domestic abuse cases have resulted in the first successful prosecution since the scheme was launched.

The six-month pilot scheme introduced by the PSNI in Londonderry in June is already proving vital in building cases where victims of domestic violence may be too scared or traumatised to see a prosecution through.

Seventy body-worn video cameras were given to fast response officers in the North West.

This has led to one successful prosecution in Foyle, as well as other incidents in which the technology has been used to collect evidence in crimes where the victims have been left seriously traumatised.

"In a domestic violence scenario, if we can go out and immediately capture evidence and context, hopefully that will give support to victims who possibly are at their wits' ends and possibly want to call the police but have suffered in silence," Superintendent Garry Eaton said.

"We are going to focus on supporting victims, focus on situations where we believe there are potentially really vulnerable victims who need support and who need to be able to have the confidence in the very early stages to stay with the police and the criminal justice system and give their evidence."

Foyle Women's Aid director Marie Brown said the cameras were just one example of how the north west was leading the way in helping the victims of domestic abuse.

"The body-worn cameras are a protocol that we lobbied for, and while it is still early days, this is already proving to be very effective and has led to prosecution in one particular incidence," she added.

"We campaigned to have these cameras introduced because there they have been so effective in other parts of the UK and in America in collecting evidence where the victim is traumatised or where she has been coerced about what she tells the police."

The camera scheme and a designated court day for domestic abuse cases has resulted in a higher number of prosecutions in the north west.

"The specialised listings day is the only one of its kind running in Northern Ireland, and it was set up for all victims of domestic violence," said Ms Brown.

"Victim Support, Women's Aid and the court services work together to ensure that victims are supported through this process

"But we have found that there is room for more support to be given at different stages to help secure convictions including child care provision."

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