Ambulance staff to trial wearing body worn cameras as number of attacks rise

Ambulance staff in the north-east will pilot body worn video cameras following a 23% rise in reported attacks by patients this year.

Around 40 North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) staff will try out the cameras in what their employer said was a first in the UK.

The service said the number of addresses flagged as requiring caution or that were potentially violent has also risen.

Alan Gallagher, head of risk for the service, said many assaults happen away from CCTV cameras, such as in a patient’s home.

Images would only be used for police inquiries into protecting staff, the service said.

Close up of the body worn camera frontline staff will wear (NEAS/PA)
Close-up of the body worn camera frontline staff will wear (NEAS/PA)

The tamper-proof cameras, software and support for the three-month trial have been provided free by the firm Edesix.

Mr Gallagher said: “This move is designed to help us bring more prosecutions against people who put our staff at risk and reduce the assaults and abuse they are currently facing in the line of their work.

“There really is nothing more disheartening than being hurt by someone that you’ve gone to help, particularly when they already work in such challenging circumstances.

“We will continue to work on measures to reduce assaults and liaise with police colleagues to ensure action is taken following any criminal acts against staff or the trust.

“We encourage all valuable NHS colleagues not to tolerate such behaviour.”

Meanwhile, Virgin Trains announced attacks on rail staff have more than halved since body worn cameras were introduced.

It gave 275 cameras to frontline staff in February and assaults on employees fell month on month, with incidents dropping from 20 in March to six in September.

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