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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Head cameras 'help tackle abuse'
A woman being attacked
One in four women are abused by a partner during their lives
Police officers in England and Wales will be issued with head cameras in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour and violence in the home.

The move comes after a report was published into a pilot project conducted in Plymouth.

The Home Office will fund the 3m rollout, following the success of the Devon scheme, where action against offenders rose by more than a third.

Police Minister Tony McNulty said the devices were "very effective".

To coincide with the conclusions of the pilot, the BBC has launched Domestic Violence Day, to raise awareness about abuse at home.

UK DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
One woman in four is physically abused by a partner during her life
Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner
In 90% of incidents children are in the same or next room
Domestic violence affects all races, classes and both genders
Source: Refuge

In January, British Crime Survey figures for "intimate violence" suggested in the previous year 60,000 women had been raped, 660,000 women had been sexually assaulted and 120,000 women had been partially choked or strangled by a partner.

And last month the British Medical Association warned that domestic violence was on the increase and urged health professionals to look out for signs of abuse.

Headcams record video pictures, giving an eye-level view of incidents, onto a portable computer drive.

The cameras means video can be used in court as evidence giving offenders less opportunity to deny their involvement.

Mr McNulty said: "The use of body worn cameras has the potential to improve significantly the quality of evidence provided by police officers in the drive to reduce crime, the fear of crime and increase the proportion of offenders brought to justice.

"This government is committed to tackling violent crime and anti-social behaviour, and the assessment so far is that the deployment of this new technology could be very effective in reducing crime, acting as a preventative tool and a means to enhance detections."

A police officer wearing a headcam
Police say headcams help conviction rates

Sandra Horley, chief executive of charity Refuge, which helps victims of domestic violence, said she welcomed the use of cameras to obtain evidence against those who commit domestic violence.

"Domestic violence has the highest rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime and every week two women are killed.

"Anything that contributes towards securing a successful conviction will help protect vulnerable women and children from further harm.

"Despite 35 years of Refuge campaigning, there is still a worrying lack of understanding of the seriousness of domestic violence, the most abhorrent of crimes."

However, Ms Horley did say the use of headcams was still in its early days and that their effectiveness still needed to be proved.

The National Domestic Violence Helpline (run by Women's Aid and Refuge) can be contacted on 0808 2000 247.


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