VICPOL: turning body cams against shooters
9 October 2020|Victoria Police
A FEW DAYS AGO, The Age ran a story on how Victoria Police have only been releasing body camera footage where it suits them and withholding it where it does not. We put links to that story on both our Face Book pages.
The article stated the cameras were meant to provide for “more transparent interactions between police and the community”, which we agree is an admirable aim.
However, the paper also revealed that officers could not only deactivate their body cameras at their discretion, but could edit footage before court cases.
Cameras used on shooters
Body cameras aren’t just used when police are chasing criminals. They are being used when they deal with licensed shooters.
VicPol intend to rely on recordings from their body cameras for evidence against shooters for COVID-19 Breaches to justify suspensions and cancellations of licences and seizure of guns. We know that because in their latest newsletter, our good friends at The Antique & Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria, revealed that the cameras area being used during licence checks and serving suspension notices. Here is what they said:
“ The next day, Wednesday the 2nd, the Guild Secretary received a phone call from the Acting Registrar to discuss our concerns. The discussion was informative, and the Secretary was advised of the actual number of licence checks that had been carried out and the resulting action taken by the police. Up until the 2nd of September 231 licence checks had been undertaken. Of these only 19 cases had resulted in firearms licence suspension. These were clear cut and proven (i.e. body camera) admissions.”
In other words, the cameras are being used to collect evidence, not to simply protect officers or the community when they come to your door – they are being used to collect evidence against you.
Your right to silence
As a general rule, you have a right to silence and to not answer questions put to you by police. Otherwise anything you will say might be recorded, and probably will be used against you.
This means that when VicPol come knocking on your door to serve a Suspension Notice due to an a COVID-19 fine or to conduct a storage inspection, assume that the cameras they are wearing are on.
In Victoria, you can tell if the body camera are on because a flashing red light around the middle circle means it is recording. A steady light simply means the camera is on. Sometimes it’s not easy to see outdoors but should be obvious indoors.
The NSC‘s advice is to cooperate where they have a legitimate need to interact with you. By all means help our police and always follow lawful directions - but treat every interaction with police as if it’s being recorded.
If police are about to serve you with a Suspension Notice due to a COVID 19 fine and want to talk or ask about the circumstances relating to the fine, we recommend you politely but firmly say ‘no comment’.
Remember exercise your right to silence and if necessary, get your family lawyer on the phone. Plus if you’re a NSC member , remember we’re only a phone call or email away!
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