Some 22,000 police officers across London will start being equipped with body cameras from today, more than any other city in the world – and one company will be the big winner.
The Metropolitan Police will begin rolling out the technology to 22,000 front line officers across London's 32 boroughs after a successful trial last year.
The company supplying the equipment is Taser, manufacturer of its eponymous stun device, which is eyeing up a share of the growing body camera market following a number of disputes over events in both the UK and US and with civilians increasingly turning to their smartphones to document interactions.
Taser already has around three-quarters of the market in the US and for the first time its sales of the cameras overtook those of the Taser device this summer.
Revenue in the three months to June for the cameras alone stood at $13.2m, up 49 per cent on the same time last year.
Taser signalled its intentions in the UK market last year, snapping up its distributor here for $4m and creating Axon Public Safety to distribute its Axon body cameras and cloud storage to store the millions of hours of film collected by them.
The company said in its most recent annual report that the UK market represented "considerable opportunity".
"In 2015, the UK and Australia became benchmarks of successful large-scale deployments of Taser technology. In 2016 and 2017, we plan to continue to develop our pipeline in both number and size of opportunities. In particular, we will be focusing investments on target countries, such as France, the UK, Canada, and Australia, where large police forces represent considerable opportunity for increased sales."
Body cameras have been found to reduce complaints against officers by as much as 93 per cent, echoing similar previous studies. Scientists said the cameras increased accountability among both officers and civilians.
The cameras for the Met police will cost £3.4m over the next three years. A similar deal with the New York Police department was awarded to a Taser competitor last week. The firm is disputing the award of the contract with the NYPD, the biggest police force in the US.
City Hall is funding the body cameras via a sell off of unused police buildings, such as New Scotland Yard.
"Body Worn Video is a huge step forward in bringing our capital's police force into the 21st century and encouraging trust and confidence in community policing," said London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
"This technology is already helping drive down complaints against officers and making them more accountable, as well as helping to gather better evidence for swifter justice. As we roll them out across London, these cameras will make a real difference to officers, as they continue their great work on the frontline fighting crime and keeping our city safe."