Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has said she supports police forces publishing body camera footage to protect officers from unfair criticism.
She spoke out about public commentators rushing to judgement following recent high profile events at the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales’ annual conference today (14 September).
Dame Cressida also told the Conference today that police officers deserved a pay rise and a fair system to calculate it that recognises they can’t take industrial action.
When Dame Cressida was quizzed about whether she supported officers releasing body worn video, she replied: “In principle I absolutely do, and I think for example during Extinction Rebellion protests, the Met were proactive about communications strategy, using imagery as much as words and not relying on traditional media to get the message across.
“I also in principle want misunderstandings or erroneous judgements about how my officers have done their work to be dispelled as soon as possible. I don’t have any hesitation.
“We are the police. We have to stick to the facts. We have to respect investigation and due process. And we must not give biased or clipped footage that tells only part of the story – as often the story is very long and complex. We need to look at the whole.”
However, she warned that any footage must be released “in good taste”, adding: “In America and other places you see law enforcement putting out images that are unacceptable and would offend both the public and staff.”
Dame Cressida criticised those in the public eye who jumped to conclusions about officers, without being in possession of all the facts. “Erroneous criticism of officers increases tension and reduces legitimacy. Rushing to judgement is dangerous,” she added.
She also called for a pay rise for police officers who have been putting themselves in harm’s way to keep people safe during Covid – against a backdrop of increasing assaults.
Attacks on officers have increased by 24% at the Met – that’s 1,500 more police assaults in a year.
Dame Cressida said: “Most of the public stayed at home. Police people and colleagues in NHS and caring services – those who keep the lights on – we, they, were out there facing the Covid risk. Carrying out their duty. Not prioritised for vaccination but keeping going. Not missing a beat.
“They faced a dreadful task. Going into people’s homes at the most difficult time one can imagine. Seeing Covid and all it could do in the early days.
“To police officers who have been insulted, assaulted and abused…To people who get up in the middle of the night to fight crime… I believe they deserve a pay rise. And they deserve a fair system of calculating it, that reflects that they cannot strike or work to rule. They need a system they can have confidence in.”