The proposal for the new law on video surveillance, approved this Thursday by the Council of Ministers, will allow police officers to start using cameras in their uniforms, called ‘bodycams’, the Deputy Secretary of State and Internal Administration revealed to the Lusa new agency yesterday.
Speaking to Lusa news agency, Antero Luís said that the proposal that the Government is going to submit to Parliament contemplates the possibility of PSP and GNR elements using portable video surveillance cameras in police interventions, the so-called ‘bodycams’.
For the secretary of state, the ‘bodycams’ are “a fundamental piece” in the performance of the security forces and in the “protection of the fundamental rights of citizens.
“The use of individual portable cameras by the security forces not only protects the agent from the point of view of the legality and proportionality of their actions, but also protects the citizen, because there is a factual record of what happened. Sometimes it happens to be one word against another, that will then not happen”, he stressed.
EVERYTHING IS “CONTROLLED HOUR, MINUTE AND SECOND”
Antero Luís stated that the use of these cameras will be done “with great rigour”, and there will be a platform, where everything is “controlled by the hour, minute and second”, and mechanisms for use.
The secretary of state explained that the recording only starts after the “police officer says he will start recording”.
“It’s not a camera that’s always recording. It’s not for the police to walk down the street with it on. There has to be a signal from the agent that it’s going to start recording,” he said.
Antero Luís considered the move “fundamental to protect the agent in situations where there is intervention with citizens and there may be some kind of quarrel or confrontation”.
Simultaneously, he added, “the citizen also knows that the intervention being made before him is having a record that is controlled, audited and seen by the judicial authorities, if necessary, or by the National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) who controls these mechanisms from the point of view of utilisation”.
Antero Luís stressed that the use of ‘bodycams’ “is normally only justified in a certain type of situation”, not being necessary “in normal patrolling”.
“The Government needs this authorisation, that Parliament approve this legislation, and then do everything that is necessary, from an administrative point of view, to provide the forces with these means”, he stressed.
The “bodycams”, small video cameras incorporated in the uniforms of the PSP agents, have been one of the instruments demanded by the police and the target of debate, namely following some media cases in which images of police operations are disseminated through mobile phones.
The proposed new law on video surveillance that the Government approved this Thursday will also introduce the use of cameras in unmanned aircraft (‘drones’) and other types of vehicles used by the security forces.
Antero Luís stated that the new law broadens the scope of the use of cameras in operational matters of the security forces, namely in border control and search and rescue operations, making it possible to use ‘drones’ to carry out the search and rescue of people.
According to the secretary of state, the proposed law that was passed will repeal the 2005 law on video surveillance, which had been amended in 2012.
The government official said that the executives proposal will also bring the new data protection legislation into line with the law.
“There is a set of realities that in the beginning were not foreseen in the law and that today it is important to clarify and in some cases to densify”, he said.
Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/