A Body Worn Camera (BWC) is a small battery powered video camera device that is increasingly in use by officers of NRE Tas to collect information and enhance the safety of staff when engaged in compliance and enforcement activities. The information below details how officers of the Department use the device and manage data captured.
The use of BWCs
1. What is a BWC?
A BWC is a small recording device that captures video and audio recordings when activated (excluding smartphones, digital or video cameras and covert devices).
2. What purposes will a BWC be used by Departmental officers?
A BWC will be used by an officer undertaking compliance and enforcement activities, It is a safety device that can reduce risk of exposure to violent, aggressive, or abusive behaviour. A BWC will also used to capture evidence to assist with compliance activities, enhance transparency, facilitate operational reviews, and manage potential allegations and claims of misconduct.
3. How will a BWC be worn?
All officers of the Department who use a BWC will use it in an overt manner and in a prominent location. Officers will notify the persons being recorded as soon as the engagement commences or as soon as practical. A person or persons to be recorded will also be notified by the officer before the BWC is turned on.
4. When does an officer need consent to use a BWC?
Authorised Officers do not need consent to record conversations to obtain evidence where there is an imminent threat of serious violence or substantial damage to property, or to record an interview with a person suspected of committing an offence (s 5(2) Listening Devices Act 1991).
5. When will a BWC be used?
A BWC will be used by an officer at their discretion and will be used as determined by the job risk assessment while undertaking high risk activities such as:
- working individually while undertaking a compliance and enforcement role;
- public and private land or water patrols that involve remote or potentially volatile persons or locations;
- patrols or inspections involving persons likely to be armed;
- searches of persons and places with or without warrant;
- the use/exercise of coercive powers;
- issuing or serving a caution, direction, notice, infringement notices, summons, or warrants;
- record of interview with a person/ persons under caution;
- taking a person/ persons into custody or otherwise lawfully depriving their liberty to leave a situation;
- seizure of equipment, samples, or evidence;
- where the risk assessment indicates an interaction or engagement is likely to be dangerous or involve a volatile subject, or
- where there is an imminent threat to the officer or persons involved.
6. When should BWC not be used?
BWC must not be used in any way that is contrary to the Listening Devices Act 1991.
A BWC will be turned off by the officer where a private conversation is occurring between persons or parties, and explicit or implicit consent of the parties has not been sought or given. This applies to situations where no offence has been detected and no serious threat exits to a person or parties involved. Typically, officers will not record in places where an expectation of privacy exists such as toilets, bathrooms, changerooms etc.
7. What if someone doesn't want to be recorded?
It is Departmental policy that an officer should use the issued BWC in high-risk activities (as outlined in FAQ 5) for safety purposes and when an imminent threat to parties involved is detected. An officer is not required to stop recording and is allowed to use discretion.
Where a person does not wish to be recorded on video, the officer at their discretion can switch their device to record audio only or if a person does not wish to be audio recorded, the officer can switch their device to record video only.
All recorded data is treated as a business record and is subject to the Personal Information Protection Principles outlined in Schedule 1 to the Personal Information Protection Act 2004.
8. How will I know if a BWC is “on" while I encounter an officer from the Department?
All officers using a BWC will wear the device in plain sight/ in an overt manner, the camera has a red light that will indicate it is active and in operation. All officers are trained to give notice as soon as reasonably possible that the BWC is active. The timing of this notice may vary depending on the circumstances of the encounter.
You may also ask the officer if the camera is activated.
9. How will BWC data (footage or audio) be used by the Department?
Data recorded on a BWC is for the following purposes:
Evidence – data recorded on a body worm camera of an incident or interaction such as formal record of interview, use of statutory powers, search and seizure, witness statements, conversations etc will be used for evidentiary purposes.
Training – Recorded data may be used in-house for one-on-one coaching, professional development, and disciplinary purposes, subject to privacy and other responsibilities imposed by legislation.
Safety – any injuries an officer has sustained while undertaking activities as part of the work health and safety (WHS) review process of the incident.
Training and policies
1. What training will an officer of the Department undergo prior to using a BWC?
Departmental officers are required to complete an online training module. This covers the theory behind BWCs, technical training on the operation of the camera, and the legal obligations of officers using the BWC.
2. Is there a policy and procedure that governs how officers use BWC?
Yes, an agency wide BWC Policy and Procedure has been developed and approved. It details operational direction that includes and is not limited to recording in various situations, responsibilities of BWC users and supervisors, retention and storing of recorded data etc.
Some Business Units of the Department have standard operating procedures for BWC detailing the process for their officers to follow on specific activities such as uploading and naming data files. These standard operating procedures are developed to be consistent with the Departmental BWC Policy and Procedure and relevant legislation.
3. What happens if an officer does not follow procedures and breaches legislation?
The Department works to enhance public trust and the use of BWCs by Departmental officers is based on the principle of accountability. Like any other allegations or complaints made to the Department on misconduct, investigation will commence, and officers will face disciplinary action if found in breach of legislation or Departmental policy and procedure.
1. How long will data collected from a BWC be stored?
The data from a BWC will be stored for a minimum of seven years unless there is a reason to retain it longer as required under the Archives Act 1983. If evidentiary recorded data, including video and/or audio data, are held as evidence involving a legislative power that is current, pending or historic, or the matter is of a significant or controversial nature, the recorded data will be retained by the Department as a permanent record.
2. Where will this data be stored?
Recorded data are saved in a dedicated folder on the divisional or NRE Tas's Large Data Repository (LDR), as soon as possible after capture. The data will also be linked to Department's records management system myDAS (security is applied to these folders) which operates in the 'Cloud'.
1. How are the privacy interests of stakeholders (members of public, complainant or alleged offender) managed?
The use of BWC is managed in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 (PIP Act). This Act governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Any 'personal information' within the meaning of the PIP Act will be treated in accordance with the principles set out in Schedule 1 to that Act".
The PIP Act prohibits a personal information custodian from using or disclosing personal information about an individual for a purpose other than the purpose for which it was collected, unless an exception applies (see schedule 1, clause 2(1)) - for example, consent is an exception. Principle 1(1) allows for collection where the information is necessary for one or more of the functions or activities of the personal information custodian.
Only those officers that have a business need other than the primary officer who recorded the situation will be permitted to have access to footage from BWC. Divisions have protocols to govern access, version control; and track copies, editing and transmission of data.
Various steps are taken to ensure security of data once it is recorded:
- Recordings are encrypted when captured.
- Recordings cannot be edited, deleted or altered in any way from the BWC.
- Secure uploading of recordings from the camera to storage.