Police officers in England and Wales are switching off their body-worn cameras and in some instances deleting or sharing footage on WhatsApp, a BBC investigation found.
The broadcaster says it found more than 150 reports of misuse of body-worn cameras in England and Wales following freedom of information requests, police sources, regulator reports and misconduct hearings.
The investigation found several serious allegations, which included reports in seven police forces where officers shared camera footage with friends or colleagues, either in person or online via social media.
Other allegations included offices sharing images of a naked person via email and cameras being used to record conversations.
There were also reports of lost and deleted footage, videos not being marked as evidence and officers switching off cameras during incidents, with some facing no penalty.
The roll-out of body-worn cameras, over the past decade, was intended to protect officers against malicious complaints and improve the quality of evidence collected.
Acting Chief Constable Jim Colwell, the National Police Chief Council’s lead for body-worn video, told the BBC the incidents “go to the heart of what undermines confidence in policing”.
The Home Office told the corporation: “Police use of technology, including body-worn video cameras, must be lawful, proportionate and justified.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, recently created a policing board to help him “scrutinise the force”, following a recommendation in Baroness Louise Casey’s review of the culture and standards of the Met.
Baroness Casey told the BBC police forces have the wrong attitude towards the cameras.
She said: “There are too many dark things that go on that we are not seeing.
“The sooner [officers] get their heads around the fact that it’s a tool that would help them build trust they’d be on to something - instead of hiding it.”
Earlier this month, a senior officer in Ireland said body-worn cameras have the potential to transform policing, with a pilot scheme beginning next year with a view to distributing the devices to officers throughout the country in 2025.
Huzma Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister, has also vowed to equip Scotland’s police with body-worn cameras.