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Spain police start wearing bodycams to boost security

Spanish police have begun wearing body cameras to record their interactions with the public in a move aimed at ensuring greater security that is gaining ground in Europe and the US.

police in Spain
Police officers in Spain to wear bodycams. Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

The interior ministry said the bodycam was launched Monday and would be “rolled out on a gradual basis to all police officers”, without saying how many were involved in the initial stages.

Spain’s TVE public television said the tiny cameras were being attached to the officers’ uniforms and could be activated either manually or automatically.

The main Spanish police union JUPOL hailed the move on Twitter, saying it was in response to “a request that the union has been making”.

“It will guarantee security, both for us to avoid any kind of misrepresentation of our interventions, as well as for the public, who will be able to clearly see the police’s professionalism and that there is no abuse of power nor excesses,” union spokesman Pablo Pérez told TVE.

Forces in Europe and the United States are increasingly turning to such technology to boost transparency following a string of fatal shootings and other claims against police over the past decade.

“The cameras are being used under public safety protocols in order to record everything that happens in the event of an unwarranted offence during an operation,” Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska told TVE ahead of the rollout.

“If they are activated, it is to guarantee security and really be transparent so that the officers’ actions can be seen and checked,” the minister said.

“This means security for both the police and the public,” he added, suggesting that in time, they would also be available to Spain’s Guardia Civil rural police force.

France began trialling bodycams, known as “pedestrian cameras”, in 2013
before a gradual rollout in 2015 in a move welcomed by police, but greeted with scepticism by rights groups who said there was no guarantee they would be always activated.

Police in London and New York also began pilot schemes in 2014 with credit-card-sized cameras clipped onto their uniforms with the technology gradually deployed over the following years.

But the cameras have had mixed success. The absence of any legal obligation governing their use can also limit their scope to uncover police misconduct.

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CRIME

Spanish court approves extradition of UK murder suspect

A court in Spain has approved the extradition of one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, sought for his suspected role in the murder of a teenager in 2015.

Spanish court approves extradition of UK murder suspect

The decision will now go before the country’s cabinet for approval.

Spanish police arrested David Ungi in May in the town of Coin near the southern resort of Marbella on May 5th as he signed up at a gym at a shopping centre.

British police believe Ungi, 30, was involved in the fatal shooting in 2015 in Liverpool of 18-year-old Vinny Waddington.

Ungi, who left Britain less than 24 hours after Waddington was killed, is also wanted by the British authorities for alleged heroin trafficking.

Spanish police carried out the operation to arrest Ungi in cooperation with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which had put Ungi on its most-wanted list.

The Spanish coast has long been a popular bolthole for British criminals fleeing the law, because they can blend easily into the thriving expatriate communities.

There are about 290,000 British nationals officially registered as living in Spain, making them the fourth-largest foreign population in the country, according to national statistics institute INE.

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