Police walkie-talkies can be a lifesaver.
But the UK government has told the public not to record police walks in public.
The move comes after a major investigation into the misuse of police walkie talksie footage by the Metropolitan Police and other forces.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) says officers in England and Wales are using the devices to record people in their homes, in private areas and at public events without their knowledge or consent.
The force’s chief constable, Mark Rowley, said: “This technology is being used in a number of ways in areas of the police service where it can be beneficial and helpful.”
The majority of the footage being used for this purpose is being recorded by walkie talking devices in the community.
“The IPCC says the devices can record a person’s movements and can also be used for crowd control, with officers using them to control people in the street.
It said: Police can record walkie speaking to other officers to communicate with them about a particular incident and to inform them of the actions of a particular individual.
The IPCC said the device had been widely used by police forces across England and elsewhere.
Its report into the use of police video in the UK said the devices had been used in just one case where the footage had been made public, in 2012.
The watchdog found police officers had recorded more than 300 incidents in the past two years in which they were recorded using the walkie speakie to ask for assistance, to report suspicious behaviour, to provide assistance in an emergency or for other reasons.
It concluded the devices “have the potential to be extremely valuable” and should be considered in all circumstances.
Police walkie chaties, or walkie cameras, are commonly used by armed police and other public bodies to record the movements of people in public places, including concerts and sporting events.
Officers are not allowed to use the devices on their own and cannot record conversations in the presence of people.
In 2016, the UK Home Office introduced legislation to prevent police officers from using the cameras to record private conversations.
The Police Federation of England and Scotland said it was concerned about the use and misuse of the devices by police, as it is considered a “critical tool” for public safety.
The organisation’s chief executive, Paul McGowan, said the move was “extremely worrying”.”
The public should have confidence in our police services and that is what we believe is happening, particularly when the technology has been widely adopted,” he said.”
As such, we call on the government to take the appropriate measures to protect the public’s privacy.