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University of Gothenburg

Body-worn cameras: implications for the work environment of private security officers

There are strong positive expectations that body cameras will improve the work environment of officers equipped with body-worn cameras. The cameras are expected to reduce violence and threats towards officers and reduce public complaints of violence and discrimination. Movie sequences from body-worn cameras are also expected to be used as evidence to clear officers accused of violence. At the same time, research shows that body-worn cameras can adversely affect the physical and mental health of officers. Contrary to the hopes of civilizing effects, camera surveillance can provoke threats and aggression. Furthermore, there are privacy aspects concerning the handling of the material that can cause work environment problems. Research on other forms of surveillance used in working life has shown that the way in which surveillance is carried out has a great effect on the employees’ health, and self-confidence, which is important for the employees' trust in and loyalty to the employer.

In this project, we investigate the use of body-worn cameras in the private security industry from a work environment perspective. The purpose is 1) to understand how the employees perceive and use the cameras and how it affects their work environment and 2) how companies and the industry regulate and handle the use.

The study is conducted through interviews with private security officers who use body-worn cameras, and with key people in companies, employers’ and employees’ organizations respectively.

The project contributes to the knowledge of whether there is a gap between the expectations that body-worn cameras will have positive effects on the working environment, and the everyday practice of private security officers. The project will furthermore generate knowledge about consequences of body cameras for the work environment of private security officers, and the work management’s attitudes to, e.g., the employees’ right to privacy in working life. Finally, our study contributes with guidelines for how the work with body-worn cameras should be organized and how management teams in the industry should work to ensure a good working environment for the users of body-worn cameras.

The project is funded by AFA Insurance and is implemented during 2019-2022.


Cecilia Hansen Löfstrand, project leader

Christel Backman