Ring video doorbells are being handed out for free by local police... what's the catch?

Police forces across Britain are handing out free Ring video doorbells to homeowners – here's everything you need to know about the scheme

Ring video doorbell
(Image credit: Ring)

Video doorbells are revolutionising the way we monitor our homes, making it easier than ever to keep an eye on what's going on when we're away; providing reassurance to those who feel uncomfortable opening the door to strangers at night; and ensuring we never miss another delivery.

But what if we told you their impact on the way that we protect our homes has been considered so significant that police forces across the UK are now offering free Ring doorbells to homeowners? Would you want in? Or would you think it an invasion of privacy? A real life Big Brother moment...

Discover everything you need to know about the scheme, below. And when you're done reading, we'd love to know your opinions...

Why is the collaboration so controversial?

The main controversy surrounding this collaboration is the fact that Ring is currently owned by Amazon, who bought the company for $1 billion back in 2018. Critics are concerned about such a large corporation working so closely with the police – a public service intended to be fair and impartial.  

You may remember that we reported on a collaboration between Ring and US Police forces a few months back. Since then, a report by The Sunday Times has revealed that four forces – including Suffolk, Leicestershire, Humberside and Hertfordshire – have begun offering local residents a similar deal. And this is only set to increase, with the report revealing that over half of the UK's police forces are in talks with Ring over future collaborations. This includes The Met, who are said to have signed a deal £243,000.

In exchange for a Ring video doorbell, which currently retails at £89, residents who live in areas with increased risk of crime or burglary would be in a position to provide police forces with video footage which may, in turn, lead to arrest. Plus, the presence of a video doorbell is considered an active deterrent to criminal opportunists. 

Whether providing the police with access to video footage would be mandatory is a debate that's still ongoing. Though Ring are keen to assert that they do not support programs in which users are obliged sign up for a recording plan or to share video footage in exchange for free devices. 

Speaking on the topic, an official spokesperson says: 'Ring values the trust our customers place in us and is committed to protecting privacy. Ring customers decide whether to share footage publicly and whether or not they want to purchase a recording plan. 

'Ring does not support programs that require recipients to subscribe to a recording plan or share footage as a condition for receiving a donated device. We are actively working with partners to ensure this is reflected in their programs. Privacy, security and consent are extremely important to us, and every decision we make as a company centres around these three pillars.'

So, what are your thoughts? Would you be willing to accept a free Ring Video Doorbell from your local police force? What if it meant that sharing video footage was mandatory? We'd love to hear your thoughts...

Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.