Concern at camera use in DFV cases

Concerns about the use of body-worn cameras (BWC) by police in domestic and family violence (DFV) responses have been laid bare by an Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) report.

How police body-worn cameras can facilitate misidentification in domestic and family violence responses, published yesterday, reported victim-survivors were concerned that BWC footage could facilitate their misidentification as primary aggressors, as well as allow perpetrators to present false evidence.

Researchers from Deakin University and Monash University used data collected in an anonymous national online survey of 119 victim-survivors, and interviews with 14 victim-survivors. Participants were recruited with the help of the Women’s Services Network and Women’s Legal Services Queensland.

“Despite the potential of BWC technology to improve frontline responses to DFV, Australian research on BWC use in DFV contexts or DFV-focused initiatives is scant, and victim-survivors have largely been overlooked in research to date,” they said.

Impacts of misidentification included the criminalisation of victim-survivors and removal of their children, as well as convictions for perjury if there was deviation from recorded footage in court statements, the researchers said.

The researchers also said BWC footage was being used by perpetrators to skew police impressions and the subsequent interpretations of the footage, where it captured only the reaction to the violence, not the violence itself.


They pointed out that the utility of BWCs relied on police training.

“Our findings also highlight that there are risks and unintended consequences of using BWCs in DFV policing,” they said.

“Mitigating these relies on the capacity of police to understand and identify ongoing patterns of DFV within the broader contexts in which it occurs.

“Trauma-informed training is essential if this is to occur.”

The authors stated the findings would directly benefit the development of policy for BWC use in DFV contexts.

“It is clear that DFV victim-survivors are frequently being misidentified as the primary aggressor, and many in this study either had been misidentified themselves or shared their concern about the likelihood of this occurring,” they said.


“But if there is heightened recognition of the impacts of DFV perpetration and perpetrators’ manipulative strategies, then the interpretation of the behaviour of both victim‑survivors and perpetrators in callouts and BWC footage will be manifestly different, and the likelihood of misidentification reduced.”

Read the report here.

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