All You Need To Know About Malta’s Police Force Bodycams


The news that Malta’s police force would receive bodycams to help them during their service was met with mostly positive acclaim. Some questions have arisen though, regarding data protection, how they work in the dark, whether recordings can be tampered with and more. This is why we met with Inspector David Bugeja to find out what’s what with these top-of-their-class bodycams.

A good idea made better

The first thing an officer about to go on patrol will do is swipe a card, with an RFID chip inside containing each individual officer’s details, across a card reader. The system in place will then assign a bodycam in particular for the officer to use; meaning the officer does not choose whichever one he or she wants.

After that, the officer affixes the camera to their person and can then continue with their duty. Once the officer is out in public, and has to deal with a member of the public, then they are obliged to switch on the camera in “Event Mode”.

“Once this event is over and the officer returns to the station”, Inspector Bugeja explains, “similar to the earlier procedure, the officer removes the camera, places it back into the docking station and automatically, the system will start charging the camera once again, and the video is uploaded to dedicated servers”.

Of course, the next question would be, “What happens to these videos?” The answer is equally logical. “It’s important to know that these videos are encrypted both while they’re still held in the camera as well as when they’re uploaded onto the servers”.

Inspector Bugeja also pointed out that there is no way the videos on the camera can be tampered with, as the data can only be moved via the dedicated docking stations. This data is then transferred to an office named “In-Field Tech”.

Do officers get to see the footage?

“The officer who would have been wearing the bodycam never gets to see the footage alone or needlessly,” Bugeja reveals. “To do so, they need to set an appointment with the In-Field Tech department, and only then can they watch the filming, and even that happens in a controlled environment”.

This covers both the requirements for the Data Protection Commissioner, and helps protect better against any potential leaks. With these measures in place, any footage is being protected in the best possible way, using the highest security levels available right now on the market.

Great, but what other features are there?

From the moment the officer receives their assigned camera, it begins recording via what is referred to as “Buffering Mode”. What happens is that the camera records and promptly deletes footage in two-minute spates. This helps because the camera will record the happenings of two minutes before the officer has a chance to switch to event mode.

Officers’ holsters for firearms and tasers are linked directly to the camera via induction sensors, meaning that if the weapon is drawn, the camera automatically begins recording. “This is important in two ways; the first, it makes things far more transparent”, says Inspector Bugeja. “Secondly, if an officer is drawing their weapon, it means that it’s a tense situation and the last thing they need to be thinking about is switching on the camera”.

The next feature also happens automatically. If one police officer switches to Event Mode, then all other cameras within Bluetooth range automatically switch on too. This ensures that as many different angles are captured and if the above situation where an officer feels the need to draw their weapon, then there’s more than one recording happening.

Last but not least…

The cameras are also equipped with GPS, and have live-streaming capabilities too, through the use of dedicated Internet keys. This, however, isn’t used in every situation, but only in delicate situations where the Command & Control room needs to see exactly what’s going on in real-time, Inspector Bugeja tells us.

We also asked him about night or dark capabilities, to which Bugeja replied that there’s a very valid reason why these cameras cannot “see” in the dark and do not offer a wide-angle view. “If the footage is being reviewed in court, the camera will show the officer’s point of view more accurately”, he explained.

The point is that if in the footage someone was on the ground and was not approached by the officer, night-vision would have placed an element of doubt upon those in court, and would question why the officer did not offer assistance in that case.

All of this allows for greater transparency within the police force, and makes for better security for police officers and the public alike. It’s a much-needed addition to the local police force, ensuring they continue carrying out their duties to the best of their capabilities and with the latest tech to support them.

Have all your questions been addressed regarding these new police bodycams, or do you have more? Tell us in the comments!