Vic: New laws to support body-worn cameras for police


Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula announced that the State Government will introduce new laws in Parliament to ensure police officers can legally use body-worn cameras in their daily duties.

According to Mr Pakula, the Justice Legislation (Body-worn Cameras and Other Matters) Bill 2017 is the first tranche of legislation to support the use of body-worn cameras when the devices are rolled out to frontline police in 2018.

Currently, the use of body-worn camera footage could constitute an offence if police were to inadvertently record a private conversation.

The State Government will amend the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 to create an exception that enables police to use the devices lawfully and ensure the footage is appropriately protected.

The reforms will pave the way for a subsequent Bill to support the use of body-worn cameras for recording statements in family violence matters and allow statements to be used by victims as their evidence-in-chief.

Field-testing of the cameras is expected in the first half of 2018. The use of cameras will bring Victoria into line with other states, including New South Wales and Queensland, where the equipment is already in use.

Additionally, the Bill introduces new reforms to ensure that crucial information is provided to the Sex Offenders Registry as soon as possible.

The changes will amend the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958 to make it clear that courts do not need to make sentencing remarks or appeal judgements anonymous before providing information to the Sex Offender Registry.

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