Council trials body cameras for staff

Perth & Kinross Council is conducting a 12 week trial of personal body cameras for frontline staff within the Environment Service. The move comes following a marked increase in violence and aggression from members of the public towards Council employees. The aim of trialling the cameras is to defuse such situations by warning people they will be filmed before a camera is activated.

As the majority of hostile incidents documented to date have taken place at the Council's recycling centres, the initial trial will be held at the local authority's recycling centres in Kinross and Crieff. The trial will involve cameras which will only record footage when activated by Council staff if they believe there is potential for an inflammatory situation to develop. Primarily it is hoped that the cameras will deter individuals from engaging in anti-social behaviour while also providing documented evidence of violence or aggression.

Staff safety

The Council takes the safety of its staff extremely seriously and operates a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to violent and abusive behaviour towards its employees. Not only has it been shown that the wearing of body cameras reduces assaults by a third but it also proves essential to criminal proceedings. According to the Home Office, body worn video evidence contributes towards saving up to 22 per cent of police time. Moreover, Police Scotland has estimated that body worn video saved in excess of £140,000 in court, police and prosecution costs following two similar pilot schemes in Aberdeen and Paisley.

Privacy Impact Assessments

The Council will complete privacy impact assessments on all footage and it will be destroyed after 28 days unless required as evidence for a prosecution.

Proactive step

Perth & Kinross Council's Environment, Enterprise & Infrastructure Convener, Councillor Colin Stewart said: "I am pleased that the Environment Service is taking the proactive step of trialling body cameras for its front line staff.  I believe this technology will not only protect staff but also help drive down unfounded complaints against employees and enable the Council to gather better evidence for swifter justice.

"These cameras will protect members of staff and the public; discourage physical assaults and aggressive or abusive behaviour towards Council staff; deter and detect crime and anti-social behaviour; assist in the identification of offenders leading to their arrest and successful prosecution; and reduce employees' fears of the potential of aggressive or violent behaviour towards them when carrying out their duties."

At the end of the pilot period, the Council will review the impact of the trial. If it has proven to have reduced the number of violent or aggressive incidents in the Perth and Kinross area, it will be rolled out to frontline Environment services across the region.