Albanian police wear body cameras to fight corruption

Albanian police wear body cameras to fight corruption
By Valentina Dimitrievska February 4, 2016

Police in Tirana will have to wear security cameras in an attempt to prevent bribery, corruption and other abuses.

The project is part of the government’s efforts to use new technologies to prevent corruption within the police’s ranks. It is expected to lower the level of bribery among policemen, which was a big concern in the past. Albania rose 22 places on Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, although corruption levels remain high.

The project was launched on February 2 in the presence of Albanian prime minister Edi Rama and interior minister Saimir Tahiri, the police said in a statement. Albania is the first country in the Balkans to implement this type of project.

It was launched in Tirana the day after police officers were provided with new uniforms. It will be extended to other cities in future.

Tahiri was quoted as saying that the body cameras are an instrument of trust between law enforcers and citizens, and will raise the standards of police services by increasing the capacity in the fight against corruption and abuse of power.

For Rama, the project represents technological revolution and is part of the government efforts to transform the relationship between police and citizens.

News agency ATA claimed on February 2 that policemen will have to wear body cameras “day and night”, so their location, movement, communication with citizens and behaviour will be constantly monitored,

According to regional news provider Balkan Insight, some €3.7mn has been spent on the project.

Police corruption is a serious issue in Albania, where according to Tahiri, criminal proceedings have been launched against 2,000 police officers in the last two years.

For activities related to drug trafficking alone, over 720 policemen were subject to disciplinary measures and criminal proceedings in the first nine months of 2015, Tahiri said in September, when revealing outstanding results in the fight against marijuana cultivation and trafficking. Police were also arrested for cooperation with gangsters.

The fight against corruption is one of the requirements for the EU-aspiring country to get closer to the bloc. Albania has been an EU candidate country since June 2014.

The country was ranked the most corrupt country in the SEE region on Transparency International’s 2014 index, along with Kosovo. The substantial improvement in the country’s score in 2015 followed the launch of Rama’s campaign against the informal economy in September 2015.