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Historic police footage taken in Derbyshire set to be unveiled at international film festival

The first-ever police surveillance footage used as evidence in a court case and captured in Derbyshire is to be screened to a global audience at an International Film Festival.

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has agreed to a temporary copyright license giving festival organisers permission to show the short film, Evidence, at the Doclisboa Film Festival held in Lisbon, Portugal, between October 18 and 28 this year.

The rare footage, shot in 1935 from a first floor shop window, captured the activities of a group of street betters in Chesterfield marketplace and is the earliest known police surveillance film to be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.

Captured by PC Saunders, the historic footage – which also captured a troop of circus elephants and was unearthed at the National Police Training College in Bramshill - is published on the British Film Industry website and gives Derbyshire a unique position in British judicial history.

According to the British Film Industry, the film was shown at Chesterfield Police Court on May 13 1935 in the trial of 39 defendants. According to local newspaper reports at the time, the court building had to be transformed into a temporary “cinema” to screen the footage.

Mr Dhindsa said: “‘I am very proud of Derbyshire Constabulary’s role in legal history and feel privileged and feel privileged to be able to share this historic footage with an international audience.

“Policing has come a long way since those early days and film evidence today including CCTV and body-worn video is routinely used as prosecution evidence in our courts.

“Advances in technology continue to push the boundaries of police investigation and capability and it’s humbling to think Derbyshire played such a critical role in this evolution.”

Before the film was discovered, a 1938 film of street betters in Bradford was believed to be the oldest example of film evidence being used in a British court.

Following Derbyshire’s use of video, many other forces began to explore the use of moving images as evidence.

The film can be viewed on the British Film Industry’s website at: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-evidence-1935-online



Media Enquiries:   Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401



Posted on Thursday 5th July 2018
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