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Body cameras plan for armed police

Armed police and officers carrying out stop and search in certain areas would be forced to wear body cameras under Liberal Democrat proposals announced today.

The reforms are being brought forward by Home Office minister Norman Baker in the party's pre-manifesto which will be published next month.

Their aim is to tighten up the laws on stop and search in an effort to transform community relations and increase the public's trust in the police.

Last November, research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

In some areas this was as high as 29 times more likely, according to the study.

Under the proposals, wearing body cameras would be compulsory for officers with fire arms, members of territorial support groups and in Section 60 stop and search areas.

The practice can take place without suspicion in places authorised by a senior police officer with a reasonable belief that violence has or is about to occur and where it is expedient to prevent it or search people for a weapon if one was involved in the incident.

The Liberal Democrats' policy also includes plans to e radicate the target-driven incentives which can cause the powers to be overused by police and i mprove safeguards through tighter guidance.

In addition, it will ensure permission for area-based stop and search is subject to judicial approval.

Mr Baker said: " The Liberal Democrats want to transform community relations and restore the public's trust in the police.

"Far too many innocent people are subjected to stop and search, which is often based on crude stereotyping of minorities.

"Stop and search has led to tension, and it's something that cannot be ignored. Liberal Democrats in Government have been taking the lead, and believe more must be done in the next Parliament."

UK trials of body-worn police cameras have shown it can bolster evidence taken at scenes of crime and bring about swifter justice by encouraging suspects to make early admissions of crimes.

It is also believed they can help build confidence in the police and give the public the reassurance that both the police and public's actions will be recorded.

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