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Body camera

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(Redirected from Body worn video)
Biker wearing one of the first 'helmet cams' c. 1987
Skydiver with helmet camera
Reporter with a GoPro camera on helmet to live stream press conferences

A body camera, bodycam, body-worn video (BWV), body-worn camera, or wearable camera is a wearable audio, video, or photographic recording system.

Body cameras have a range of uses and designs, of which the best-known use is as a police body camera. Other uses include action cameras for social and recreational (including cycling), within the world of commerce, in healthcare and medical use, in military use, journalism, citizen sousveillance and covert surveillance.

Research on the impact of body-worn cameras for law enforcement shows mixed evidence as to their impact on the use of force by law enforcement as well as the and communities' trust in police. The publicized deaths of black Americans at the hands of police has been a large factor increasing support for body worn cameras by police personnel. For decades people have protested police by watching them stemming from long term unhappiness with the system, and social media has only bolstered this behavior from the public.[1]



Body-worn cameras are often designed to be worn in one of three locations: on the torso, on or built into a helmet, and on or built into glasses. Some feature live streaming capabilities, such as GPS positioning, automatic offload to cloud storage, while others are based on local storage. Some body-worn cameras offer automatic activation of the cameras with the ability to adhere to that agency's specific body camera recording policies. The National Criminal Justice Technology Research, Test, and Evaluation Center has conducted market surveys on body-worn cameras to assist organizations in purchasing the best camera. The survey discusses device functionality, optics, audio, GPS, and several more categories. These cameras range in price from 200 dollars to 2,000 dollars.[2]


A close up of a body camera not on a body

Law enforcement

Police body camera example

Wearable cameras are used by police and other law enforcement organizations in countries around the world. The cameras are intended to improve interactions between officers and the public. The first generation of 'modern' police body cameras was introduced around 2005 in the United Kingdom, followed from 2014 onwards by large-scale implementation in the United States, mainly to increase transparency and police accountability. Following multiple cases of civil unrest surrounding the deaths of civilians under police supervision, a growing current of demands for a more thorough investigation process began to swell. Groups like Black Lives Matter were protesting and calling for action from the Obama administration. On December 18, 2014, the Obama administration cited "simmering distrust" between police and minorities as a reason to enact the president's task force on 21st-century policing as an executive order.[3] There are more than 1800 police departments in the United States, and by 2016 more than half of them were using BWC technology in some capacity.[4] Early studies showed positive results, but replications have led to mixed findings. Outcomes have been shown to differ depending on the local context and the guidelines regulating activation of the body cams. The most obvious effect of this technology would be increased transparency between the police force and the public, as the technology makes it much easier to collect evidence of misconduct whether that be on the part of the officer or the civilian.[5] Challenges include training, privacy, storage and the use of recordings further 'downstream' in the judicial system. The presence of body-worn cameras influences both parties present for an arrest, but the exact effects are currently inconclusive.[6] However, the presence of body-worn gives ease to the public which can improve relations between police and the public. Conclusive studies have not yet reached an explanation as to the concrete effects on the individuals, but it can be noted that the presence of body worn cameras has resulted in a decrease in civilian complaints.[5] Challenges include training, privacy, storage and the use of recordings further 'downstream' in the judicial system. A systematic review assessed the available evidence on the effect of body-worn cameras in law enforcement on police and citizen behavior. They found that body-worn cameras may not substantially impact officer or citizen behavior and that effects on use of force and arrest activities are inconsistent and non-significant. Research suggests no clear effects of body-worn cameras in terms of citizen behavior such as calls to police and resisting arrest.[7] Subsequent analysis of the research affirms these mixed findings and draws attention to how the design of many evaluations fails to account for local context or citizen perspectives.[8]

Body-worn cameras have become one of the biggest costs for townships, cities, and agencies for police, costing millions of dollars. The main reason for the growth of body-worn cameras is a direct result of the publicizing of events over the past decade, where Caucasian police officers have killed unarmed Black civilians. The family of Michael Brown, a black teenager killed by police, called for the use of BWCs by all police in the United States.[3] The task force assembled by the Obama administration recommended the use of BWCs on the local level in 2015; this was backed up by the Department of Justice.[3]

The main place where body-worn cameras have become more popular is in low-researched environments, because public protest was the main driving reason for BWC becoming so widespread.[9]

The use of body-worn cameras by police was not only a popular development in the United States, but also in England and Wales, where they are not a new discovery. The overall outcome and reactions to these cameras have been positive, but there has been little evidence on how BWCs have affected the actions and reactions of the police wearing them.[10]


Firefighter with a GoPro camera

Firefighters use helmet cameras as a tool to assess fires and for communication and training purposes. Cameras in this occupation are often thermal cameras in order to be able to see in darkness and inside smoke-filled buildings. Augmented reality (AR) can be added to accentuate outlines of objects and people.[11]



Body worn video has been suggested and explored in the medical field. Data recorded from wearable cameras can assist in medical research and limit error caused by inaccurate self-reporting of data.[12] It is speculated that under-reporting is common when conducting dietary and nutrition assessments.[13] Research suggests body worn video reduces under-reporting of intake during such assessments.[14] Cameras can be used as a memory prosthetic for conditions that affect the memory.[15] In 2013, Google Glass was used to assist in surgery by providing a mostly hands-free way to broadcast and receive consultation from another surgeon.[16] Body cameras were provided to hospital staff by the Cardiff and Vale Health Board in Wales, United Kingdom. The cameras were issued to reduce the likelihood of violent assaults against staff. According to the manager who provides support to staff who have been attacked, the cameras – and especially the audio recording – have been vital for successful prosecutions.[17]

Body cameras can be used to make an impact in the mental health world. There is currently only minimal evidence on the effects that body cameras have in a mental health setting in reference to violence within patients; the use of the technology points towards lower numbers of complaints from the public in law enforcement, though its efficacy in mental health settings is not clear.[18]

Military combat

U.S. soldier in Afghanistan with a personal helmet camera, 2010

Body-worn cameras as well as helmet cameras are used in the military.[19] Video can either be stored locally, or streamed back to a command center or military outpost. A notable example is the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound, where live video footage of the raid is believed to have been streamed to the White House.[20] In 2013, Royal Marine Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder for killing a captive Taliban insurgent; footage from incident, recorded on a helmet camera, was used in Blackman's court-martial. The conviction was overturned in 2017 and reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility with Blackman being released from jail.[21][22] The helmet camera has been the focus of the Discovery Channel series Taking Fire about the 101st Airborne in the Korengal documenting their personal war footage.



The utilization of body cameras by militant groups represents a shift in the tactics of modern conflict and asymmetrical warfare, enabling such groups to amplify the impact of their operations. It can serve as a propaganda tool, a means of recruitment, and a method to maintain the narrative surrounding their actions.

In 2016, helmet camera footage was recovered from a dead Islamic State fighter in Iraq, offering a contrasting picture of chaos and panic in a battle with Kurdish Peshmerga.[23] There have also been various other helmet camera footage that were recovered from Islamic State fighters.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas and other Gazan militants used bodycams and helmet cameras during an attack on Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip. The videos released on social media, or captured by Israeli forces from the bodies of dead or captured militants, depicted severe acts of violence including murder, torture, decapitation, and kidnapping.[24][25]



Body cameras may be worn by retail workers to deter against abusive or threatening behavior by customers.[26]

Retail workers are looking for ways to solve issues when it comes to dealing with criminal behavior, while also making the staff feel safer and more comfortable when working.[27]

Body cameras have become part of police officers' everyday uniforms, by police in the United States. They have been initiated to help with regulating and enforcing laws in their everyday work, by recording while they are on their shift.[28]

Privacy concerns


Concerns over privacy have been raised over the use of this technology, most notably in the context of Google Glasses and policing. The advent of large-scale data collection, possibly in combination with facial recognition and other technologies capable of interpreting videos in bulk, means that all cameras, including body-worn cameras, could create a means of tracking people anywhere they go. In policing, critics have warned that each police officer could become a "roving surveillance camera".[29] Issues involving privacy concerns continue as new technologies are presented to law enforcement but the government has had ways of masking the technologies from the public and in some cases, even the police.[30] Police will interact with citizens during vulnerable moments,[31] such as in a hospital, or in a domestic violence situation. Concerns have also been raised that this algorithms not only infringe on privacy rights, but could also be ethnically biased.[32] The American Civil Liberties Union has suggested policies to balance citizen's rights with the desire for more transparency and accountability.[33]

See also



  1. ^ "Do Police Body-Worn Cameras Reduce the Use of Force? | Econofact". Econofact. 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  2. ^ Hung, Vivian; Babin, Steven (2016). "A Market Survey on Body Worn Camera Technologies" (PDF). Laurel, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Gimbel, Noah (August 2016). "Body cameras and criminal discovery". Georgetown Law Journal. 104 (6) – via Gale Academics OneFile.
  4. ^ National Institute of Justice, "Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement," January 7, 2022, nij.ojp.gov: https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/research-body-worn-cameras-and-law-enforcement
  5. ^ a b Ariel, B., Young, J., Henderson, R., Megicks, S., Sykes, J., Drover, P., Henstock, D., & Sutherland, A. (2016). "Contagious Accountability": A Global Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Citizens' Complaints Against the Police. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 44(2), 293–316.
  6. ^ Taylor, E., & Lee, M. (2019). Points of View: Arrestees' Perspectives on Police Body-Worn Cameras and Their Perceived Impact on Police–Citizen Interactions. The British Journal of Criminology, 59(4), 958–978.
  7. ^ Lum, Cynthia; Koper, Christopher S.; Wilson, David B.; Stoltz, Megan; Goodier, Michael; Eggins, Elizabeth; Higginson, Angela; Mazerolle, Lorraine (September 2020). "Body‐worn cameras' effects on police officers and citizen behavior: A systematic review". Campbell Systematic Reviews. 16 (3): e1112. doi:10.1002/cl2.1112. PMC 8356344. PMID 37131919.
  8. ^ Henne, Kathryn; Shore, Krystle; Harb, Jenna Imad (August 4, 2021). "Body-worn cameras, police violence and the politics of evidence: A case of ontological gerrymandering". Critical Social Policy. 42 (3): 388–407. doi:10.1177/02610183211033923. hdl:1885/311177. S2CID 238850694.
  9. ^ "Research on body‐worn cameras: What we know, what we need to know – Library Search". librarysearch.temple.edu. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  10. ^ Harrison, Karen; L'Hoiry, Xavier; Santorso, Simone (June 2022). "Exploring the impact of body-worn video on the everyday behaviours of police officers". The Police Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles. 95 (2): 363–377. doi:10.1177/0032258X211000834. ISSN 0032-258X. S2CID 233627106.
  11. ^ News, CBS (31 December 2018). "New augmented reality technology could help firefighters save lives". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2019-05-08. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  12. ^ Doherty, Aiden R.; Hodges, Steve E.; King, Abby C.; Smeaton, Alan F.; Berry, Emma; Moulin, Chris J. A.; Lindley, Siân; Kelly, Paul; Foster, Charlie (1 March 2013). "Wearable Cameras in Health: The State of the Art and Future Possibilities". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 44 (3): 320–323. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.11.008. PMID 23415132.
  13. ^ Pettitt, Claire; Liu, Jindong; Kwasnicki, Richard M.; Yang, Guang-Zhong; Preston, Thomas; Frost, Gary (14 January 2016). "A pilot study to determine whether using a lightweight, wearable micro-camera improves dietary assessment accuracy and offers information on macronutrients and eating rate". British Journal of Nutrition. 115 (1): 160–167. doi:10.1017/S0007114515004262. hdl:10044/1/26551. PMID 26537614.
  14. ^ Gemming, Luke; Rush, Elaine; Maddison, Ralph; Doherty, Aiden; Gant, Nicholas; Utter, Jennifer; Ni Mhurchu, Cliona (28 January 2015). "Wearable cameras can reduce dietary under-reporting: doubly labelled water validation of a camera-assisted 24 h recall". British Journal of Nutrition. 113 (2): 284–291. doi:10.1017/S0007114514003602. hdl:10536/DRO/DU:30081444. PMID 25430667.
  15. ^ Visual Memory Prosthetic, 1996
  16. ^ Schreinemacher, Marc H.; Graafland, Maurits; Schijven, Marlies P. (December 2014). "Google Glass in Surgery". Surgical Innovation. 21 (6): 651–652. doi:10.1177/1553350614546006. PMID 25389144. S2CID 39882078.
  17. ^ Seal, Chris (17 February 2015). "Body cameras for hospital security staff to clamp down on violence". Barry And District News. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  18. ^ Wilson, Keiran; Eaton, Jessica; Foye, Una; Ellis, Madeleine; Thomas, Ellen; Simpson, Alan (April 2022). "What evidence supports the use of Body Worn Cameras in mental health inpatient wards? A systematic review and narrative synthesis of the effects of Body Worn Cameras in public sector services". International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. 31 (2): 260–277. doi:10.1111/inm.12954. ISSN 1445-8330. PMC 9299804. PMID 34877792.
  19. ^ Bud, Thomas K. (2016-05-09). "The Rise and Risks of Police Body-Worn Cameras in Canada". Surveillance & Society. 14 (1): 117–121. doi:10.24908/ss.v14i1.6280. ISSN 1477-7487.
  20. ^ "Obama watched live video of bin Laden raid, U.S. official says". CNN. May 20, 2011.
  21. ^ "Royal Marine guilty of murder". BBC News. November 8, 2013.
  22. ^ Press Association: "Marine A: Alexander Blackman released from prison", The Guardian, 28 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Helmet cam footage shows Islamic State in battlefield chaos". Reuters. 2016-04-29. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  24. ^ Tolan, Casey; Ash, Audrey; Chapman, Isabelle; Merrill, Curt (26 October 2023). "Slain Hamas militants' body camera videos show the preparation and tactics behind their terror attack on Israel". CNN. Retrieved 2023-10-28.
  25. ^ Hofmann, Frank (2023-11-04). "Israel shows Hamas terror videos to document horrific attack". DW. Retrieved 2023-11-07.
  26. ^ O'Flaherty, Antonia (2022-05-04). "Retail staff wear body cameras to counter abuse, threats from customers". ABC News. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  27. ^ "How body-worn cameras help deter violence in retail: Axis". Retail Insight Network. 2021-05-20. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  28. ^ "Police body cameras can be a positive accountability tool, but they can also invade our privacy". UC Press Blog. Retrieved 2022-11-16.
  29. ^ Tilley, Aaron. "Artificial Intelligence Is Coming To Police Bodycams, Raising Privacy Concerns". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  30. ^ Manes, Jonathan. "Secrecy and evasion in police surveillance technology". Berkeley Technology Law Journal. 34: 503–566 – via EBSCO.
  31. ^ "Police Perspective: The Pros & Cons of Police Body Cameras". www.rasmussen.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
  32. ^ "How Police Body Cameras Work". HowStuffWorks. 2015-06-12. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  33. ^ "A Model Act for Regulating the Use of Wearable Body Cameras by Law Enforcement". American Civil Liberties Union. June 2018. Retrieved 2019-05-08.