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AMSA's use of body worn cameras
Regulatory agencies throughout Australia and internationally now use body worn cameras (BWCs). AMSA field staff will begin using BWCs from late 2021 to provide extra security, transparency, and to collect evidence for investigative and regulatory purposes.
AMSA inspectors often conduct vessel inspections alone in isolated or remote areas. The new BWCs will be a great asset to help protect staff and improve officer safety.
Research shows that the use of BWCs has many benefits including:
- deterring negative behaviour
- making it easier to review conduct complaints
- reducing how often offenders refuse to pay infringements (and instead choose to go to court)
- providing supporting evidence in the investigation of breaches of legislation
- deterring bribes offered to inspectors.
The BWC will be worn by AMSA inspectors and can be used to capture both video and audio interactions.
Using BWC technology is best practice in safety and transparency. Agencies worldwide use body worn cameras when conducting Port State Control inspections. AMSA adopting the same practice is great news for Australia’s maritime industry.
Use of BWCs during inspections
When being used, AMSA inspectors will wear the camera and it will be turned on while they are on official duties. The camera will not always be recording. The inspector will decide when to start or stop a recording depending on the situation.
Inspectors will record for a reason or a purpose in line with their inspector’s powers conducting official AMSA duties.
BWCs will be worn openly on the uniform of AMSA inspectors. When a camera starts recording it will beep, and the LED lights on the front of the camera will turn red.
While recording, the camera will make a beeping noise every two minutes, and the LED lights will flash red.
BWCs will be used to capture footage of people and their conversations. AMSA inspectors will notify people directly involved in the inspection that it is being recorded. They will also ask people involved whether they have any objections to the conversation being recorded.
If a person objects to being recorded using a BWC, AMSA inspectors will record any information given by the person by making notes.
AMSA inspectors also have legislative powers to make recordings that do not require consent. This mostly relates to recording ‘things’ such as vessels, premises, and things on vessels and premises.
Additionally, an inspector will use a BWC to record individuals without obtaining their consent if it cannot be gained in time to record:
- an observed breach of AMSA administered legislation
- non-compliant behaviour that will lead to compliance or enforcement action being taken
- an incident that is about to, or has, occurred
- aggressive, abusive or obstructive behaviour directed at the inspector that hinders them in the performance of their duty.
Storage and retention of footage
AMSA will upload the footage captured on our body worn cameras to a secure video management system. All data is stored securely in Australia. The footage is only available to authorised AMSA staff members. All access to BWC footage is tracked and is regularly audited.
Non-evidentiary footage will be kept for 30 days. Other footage will be held for periods determined by legislation and AMSA policy.
Use and disclosure of footage
AMSA may use and disclose footage for the purposes of its compliance and enforcement activities. Footage may therefore be used and disclosed for criminal investigations and prosecutions, civil penalty proceedings and proceedings in relation to the review of administrative decisions in which AMSA is involved. In these cases, disclosure will normally be made to the lawyers involved in the case and to the court or tribunal.
AMSA may also disclose footage to state and territory law enforcement, maritime regulators or work health and safety authorities where such disclosure is authorised under Australian Privacy Principle 6 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
AMSA may also disclose footage where it is required to or authorised by law, including in response to a subpoena, summons or notice to produce or where release is authorised under s 11 of the Australian Maritime Safety Act 1990 (Cth) or the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth).
Where AMSA discloses footage, authorised AMSA staff members can, as required, produce redacted or edited copies of recordings. This will be to protect privacy or for other considerations. The original file can never be overwritten or altered.
Obtaining a copy of footage
To access footage captured by AMSA, please make a freedom of Information (FOI) request by emailing FreedomOfInformation@amsa.gov.au. You may be charged a fee for processing your request.
More information about the freedom of information process is on the AMSA website.
For all other requests to view or access footage, please contact AMSA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on how to access or correct your personal information, how to make a privacy complaint, or how your information may be used or disclosed for purposes beyond those described in this statement, please visit www.amsa.gov.au/privacy/.