New laws to support body-worn cameras for police in Australia
The Justice Legislation (Body-worn Cameras and Other Matters) Bill 2017 is the first tranche of legislation to support the use of body‐worn cameras when the devices are rolled out to frontline police next year.
Currently, the use of body-worn camera footage could constitute an offence if police were to inadvertently record a private conversation.
The Labor Government will amend the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 to create an exception that enables police to use the devices lawfully and ensure the footage is appropriately protected.
The reforms will pave the way for a subsequent Bill to support the use of body-worn cameras for recording statements in family violence matters and allow statements to be used by victims as their evidence-in-chief.
The legislation will implement a key initiative of the Labor Government’s $596 million Public Safety Package to give police the powers, resources and tools they need to keep the community safe – including body-worn cameras.
Field-testing of the cameras is expected in the first half of next year. The use of cameras will bring Victoria into line with other states, including New South Wales and Queensland, where the equipment is already in use. ■