Body-worn cameras: determining the democratic habitus of policing

Baris Cayli (University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Charlotte Hargreaves (University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Philip Hodgson (University of Derby, Derby, UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Publication date: 8 October 2018



This study advances our knowledge about the effectiveness of body-worn cameras (BWCs) through exploring the perceptions of English police officers in three principal areas: positive perceptions, negative perceptions and evidence-focussed perceptions. In doing so, the purpose of this paper is to shed new light on the democratising process in the habitus of policing.


This study presents a novel data set that evaluates the introduction of BWC to police officers in the East Midlands area of England. The authors conducted an extensive survey to explore the perceptions of 162 police officers about the BWCs. The authors examined the empirical data using Stata within the theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu concerning the concept of habitus.


The authors have found that most police officers perceive that BWCs have a positive impact on policing practices and evidence collection. The positive perceptions and evidence-focussed perceptions increase the importance of BWCs; however, there are also negative perceptions regarding effective policing, administrative functionality and establishing a better relationship with the community. The authors argued that all three areas: positive perceptions, negative perceptions and evidence-focussed perceptions play a stimulating role to democratise the habitus of policing. On the other hand, BWCs do not guarantee the consolidation of democratic principles in the habitus of policing because of the authority of police to decide when, where and how to use BWCs.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to the perceptions of 162 police officers in East Midlands before they actually started using it. A future study to analyse their real-life experiences after using the BWCs may help us to compare their perceptions before using it with real-life experiences after BWCs are used. In addition, a comparative approach between countries in future research will help to explain the role of technological applications in different social geographies and legal systems.


This study offers new insights about the perceptions of police on BWCs before they started using them. The authors introduce the democratic habitus of policing as an innovative concept and explored power dynamics in the habitus of policing through BWCs. The findings provide a strong empirical contribution to determine the conditions of democratic habitus of policing. In doing so, this study develops our theoretical knowledge about the habitus concept in sociology by employing BWCs in policing activities.



Cayli, B., Hargreaves, C. and Hodgson, P. (2018), "Body-worn cameras: determining the democratic habitus of policing", Safer Communities, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 213-223.

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