By Carla Penman
From exposing abysmal living conditions and animal hoarding to dramatic rescues, the body-worn cameras that the Auckland SPCA inspectors wear capture it all.
At a flick of the switch, the cameras record what an inspector sees and does on call-outs.
It's been 18 months since the Mangere-based SPCA got ten of them, paid for by a grant and costing several thousand dollars each.
Senior Animal Welfare Inspector Kevin Plowright can't imagine now not having them.
He says there's clear evidence they are effective at altering behaviour of offenders, protecting staff and exposing what really happened at a property.
"With having that real-life image of what did happen ... it's a good safeguard for us," he says.
"And accusations of anything, inappropriate conduct ... well, it's all on here."
He says the cameras have become essential to the job, particularly in court.
The hours of footage collected every day is securely uploaded and stored, and later marked "evidence" or left, to then be automatically deleted after a month.
Plowright says they've used footage to successfully argue at least half a dozen court cases.
"For example, the defence came up with we didn't give their client the bill of rights. We can lead them to the exact timing in there and show them the bill of rights being given to that client."
And outside court, he says they have made staff feel much safer.
"One of our inspectors was at a property and the person who owned [it] rang up and suggested to our boss that the inspector stole a chainsaw off the property," he says.
"Ah, well, we got a camera, hang on we'll review the footage ... and, ah, no he didn't. It really protects the inspectors as well."
The Auckland and Wellington SPCAs are the only ones in the country that use them.
Plowright hopes that will change.
"I would like to see it rolled out nationally and in time that will potentially happen."