Surveillance Legislation Amendments (Personal Police Cameras) Bill 2018 (No. 29)
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, this is a very good move for officers; as mentioned by the member for McIntyre, it is one more tool in the toolkit. While some cameras are in use, we believe it will be around 24 months before they are rolled out Tasmania-wide.
While it is primarily for the safety of officers, it is also for the safety of the public. It is hoped these cameras will deter people from attacking officers, given it will all be captured on film. I recall reading in the media that when officers go to domestic violence and other incidents, it will avoid some of those people having to give evidence or to go through the horror of what they have experienced again. Capturing it on film is a very good move.
The film is retained for a minimum of seven years under the Archives Act, irrespective of whether people charged due to footage taken are found guilty or not. The camera sees what the eye can see. It is important the cameras only see what the officer can see, so that something else is not being shown when the film comes back, which the officer might have missed because it may have been outside his peripheral vision.
It prerecords for 30 seconds. It is always recording that 30-second run and when the start button is pressed, it has recorded the previous 30 seconds. So often with cameras, you see something and by the time the camera starts, you have missed it. The camera is a very good one to record the 30 seconds beforehand.
I note the camera can be connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth for ease of cataloguing incidents and inputting data for later access. I am pleased to see that officers are allowed to carry phones. I believe officers were not encouraged to carry their private phones at one stage. This is a good move. They need to have their mobile phones. You can imagine how long it would take if they have to take their camera, sit down, work out and type everything into a catalogue afterward, whereas they can Bluetooth it to a phone and do it straightaway while it is fresh in their memory. It is a much better method.
The introduction of video interviews has saved time because there are fewer pleas of not guilty due to film evidence. People can no longer say they did not say something when it is on film. This will apply to the cameras as well. I do not know how many films I am on in the work I do with the police as an independent person. I must look like I belong to a lot of children, but they are filmed. I have found in those cases that the people I sit with as the independent person are generally happy to say what is happening because it is filmed and there is no dispute as to what the evidence was. It is an important move if it saves police time because we all know the police have enough work to do. Hopefully, this will lessen pleas of not guilty and be of real benefit. It should eliminate disputes about what has happened when you have the film and can look at it.
It is a shame it is not happening for plain-clothes officers now, but that will happen in future. I accept it is for uniformed officers on the front line, but it would be a very handy tool for the plain-clothes officers. While I accept they have two hands and they might carry a gun in one hand and a camera in the other - they might be out in the bush and they might be looking for drug hauls or whatever on some occasions - but it would be a really good move for them to have free hands and to have the camera -
Mrs Hiscutt - Like a miner's light?
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, a bit like a miner's light. They could have a camera on their heads but one on the chest is as good. I look forward, once it is rolled out across Tasmania, to looking at this for the plain-clothes officers. I support the bill.