Yorkshire’s biggest police force says it is seeking assurances from a private company about what has happened to sensitive evidence from cameras worn on officers’ uniforms.
West Yorkshire Police, which is spending £2 million on body-worn cameras to capture footage of its officers on duty, used three different camera suppliers as part of a nationwide study into the technology.
An investigation by Sky News revealed that cameras sold by American firm Taser, one of the three suppliers to the force, are automatically uploading videos to a third-party computer cloud storage system.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle said: “West Yorkshire Police took part in a nationwide study of body worn cameras with Cambridge University that has now finished. This research phase involved the use of three different camera suppliers that were approved and accredited by the Home Office and adhered to UK data and privacy laws. The security of information we hold is of extreme importance and continues to be a priority in all areas of our work.
“As part of the storage arrangement with Taser, it was agreed that any information held on their systems would be deleted upon the selection of a Force-wide supplier.
“In addition, this data could only ever be accessed by the Force. We are now in the process of ensuring this has been removed from their databases.
“Body worn cameras have shown to have significant benefits for both victims and witnesses of crime and we are currently buying them for the entire organisation so that they can be used across the whole county. All future data will be stored locally on secure West Yorkshire Police servers.”
West Yorkshire Police joined other forces around the world last year in a research project with Cambridge University, with 160 cameras used by officers.
Taser says four British police forces are still using its cameras, with 1,000 at the Metropolitan Police, 400 being used by the British Transport Police, 200 at the City of London force and 25 in Staffordshire. The firm insists the servers it uses are more secure than internal police computers and said its customers are “in full control of their data”.