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Griffith Magazine

Looking at body-worn cameras through a new lens

Griffith Magazine

Third Edition February 2019

For a moment in time, technology offered a panacea of sorts to the world, with the emergence of body-worn cameras in the police force. A new dawn for the place of trust in relationships between officers of the law and the broader community was briefly heralded until the reality of social situations duly tempered expectations.

As new and provocative questions emerged and demanded answers, Dr Justin Ready found himself in the moment. Right place, right time.

Justin is a senior lecturer at Griffith’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a researcher with the Griffith Criminology Institute, where he is building on his previous body of work at Arizona State University in the United States.

His research profile is choc-a-bloc with hot-button topics such as crime hot spots, public health and crime, and police innovations. He has published articles on post-traumatic stress disorder at crime hot spots, illegally obtaining prescription drugs and the impact of Tasers on the ability to reason, remember and pay attention.

In Australia, where he is collaborating with the Western Australia Police Force, he is extending his academic investigation into body-worn cameras and the implications of this technology for all involved.

“Many of the initial assumptions about video evidence and its impact on the legal process have been revised and revisited as issues around objectivity and context have come to light,” Justin said.

“The cameras have the potential to increase accountability and, in some cases, to have a civilising effect on how police and citizens interact. But, rather than bringing people together, they also have the potential to divide opinion. However, the advantages of this technology clearly outweigh the costs.”