Body cam footage of arrest of Met PC deleted after 90 days despite him facing misconduct proceedings
EXCLUSIVE: BODYCAM footage of a police officer being arrested was deleted after just 90 days, even though he faced misconduct proceedings, which would have benefitted from seeing the evidence, it has emerged.
Stephen Potts, an officer with the Met Police Parliamentary and Diplomatic Command, was arrested by Hertfordshire Police officers on suspicion of going equipped for theft in December 2019 after he was seen acting suspiciously.
He was not charged, but the Met Police launched misconduct proceedings.
After a misconduct hearing in February 2021 he was found guilty of misconduct, in that he hid a rucksack containing items used in the course of theft, fled from investigating officers, lied to them and refused to cooperate with the investigation, and received a final written warning.
A summary of the misconduct hearing, obtained by Essex News and Investigations last month following a more than two-year Freedom of Information Act legal battle with the Met and Information Commissioner's Office, showed that bodycam footage of his arrest was not available.
A summary of the hearing said Mr Potts applied to have the case discontinued as bodycam footage from the arresting officers had been "destroyed."
The panel rejected his application saying it could still hear the case based on witness evidence and there was nothing to suggest the footage had been lost or destroyed deliberately.
A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said that despite Mr Potts facing misconduct proceedings, the footage was deleted automatically after 90 days as being "not identified as evidential by staff in accordance with the NPCC guidelines and the Data Protection Act."
It came in a week when it was reported that some police officers in England and Wales have been switching off their body cameras while using force, and deleting and sharing footage on WhatsApp.
The Home Office said the police use of cameras must be lawful and justified after an investigation found more than 150 reports of alleged misuse of body-worn cameras.
There were several serious allegations, including reports in seven police forces where officers shared camera footage with friends or colleagues.
Other allegations include the sharing of images of a naked person between officers on email and cameras being used to record conversations, according to the report.
The police have been accused of deleting footage or not marking it as evidence and switching off cameras during incidents, where force may have been overused.
Footage filmed by Bedfordshire Police of a woman alleging rape by an inspector was "deleted", while the force blamed it on an "administrative error".