Ballarat police to receive body cameras in April

Ballarat’s frontline police at the Dana Street station will be equipped with body cameras from April, the Victorian government has confirmed.

The move comes after Victoria Police recently inked a deal with law enforcement technology company Axon, which will provide 11,000 cameras to officers across the state by 2020 as part of a multimillion-dollar program.

Dana Street and Melbourne’s Epping police stations will be used as pilot locations for the first phase of deployment.

Up to 200 cameras will be given to frontline police between the two sites.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett said the use of cameras formed part of Victoria Police’s response to the Family Violence Royal Commission.

“It’s hoped that capturing family violence related crime scenes and the immediacy of victim and perpetrator statements may improve the judicial process and reduce the impact of the justice process on victims by allowing them to make statements at the time of first police attendance,” he said.

Police in NSW and Queensland have already been equipped with body cameras.

While some have raised concerns about privacy issues, supporters of body cameras say they hold police officers and the people they deal with to account.

“Victoria Police will soon have some of the most advanced technology in the country thanks to the Andrews Labor Government’s investment in new equipment and intelligence,” Minister for Police Lisa Neville said on Tuesday.

“Body worn cameras will be a critical tool to respond to family violence issues and other crimes in our community.”

“Information is the lifeblood of modern policing, and this technology will build on our huge investments in frontline policing and help keep Victorians safe.”

The trial in Ballarat will be studied by Victoria Police to help determine the next steps in the roll out of the small video cameras, which will be pinned to the vests of officers.

Meanwhile, stab vests, duress alarms and body cameras will be provided to Victorian hospitals by the state government to help try and protect staff from violent patients.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy on Tuesday announced a $7 million fund would be provided for hospitals to keep health workers safe from aggressive patients and family members.

"Our hard working doctors, nurses and paramedics are not punching bags ... abuse will not be tolerated and we believe these measures will help," Ms Hennessy said.