Police body camera legislation comes into force
The new legislation on the use of body cameras by Belgian police was presented on Saturday by minister Annelies Verlinden and Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt. By default, footage will be stored for 30 days before being deleted, unless they have value as evidence in a case.
"There is an increase in aggression and violence in society, we have to take the fight against it very seriously," said minister Verlinden on Saturday. "We cannot tolerate that someone who wants to help another person becomes a victim of aggression."
Where possible, officers should announce that they are turning on their bodycam to let the aggressor know that everything is being filmed. The 30 seconds before the recording starts will also be recorded, and the footage can be used as additional evidence or context after the incident.
"We cannot tolerate that someone who wants to help another person becomes a victim of aggression"
The legislation, which comes into force on Saturday, sets out when the bodycam can be used, how it should be used and how long the footage will be kept. "The images will be kept for 30 days and then destroyed," Van Tigchelt said. "Only if it turns out that they can be useful for further proceedings will they be downloaded to a separate server and kept longer."
Most major police zones in Belgium already have bodycams. Around 4,000 are currently in circulation, both in local zones and with the federal police.
© BELGA PHOTO KATLEEN VASTIAU