South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has agreed to trial body worn video cameras to better protect its ambulance crews against violence and aggression.
Crews in Exeter, Plymouth and Bristol have worn the cameras during the three-month trial.
The use of cameras is intended to deter abuse and obtain evidence of offences against SWASFT ambulance crews. If the trial is successful, the cameras could be rolled out across the trust.
There were 1285 recorded incidents of violent or aggressive behaviour towards SWASFT staff between August 2018 and August 2019, which is an increase of 24% compared to the previous year.
Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said, “Like all our emergency services colleagues, our crews and control staff work in extremely difficult circumstances. They are often under threat of attack or abuse, and staff members are assaulted every day. That is totally unacceptable.
“We want to take every possible measure to ensure our employees are safe at work. Using body worn video cameras will discourage people from abusing and assaulting our staff. They will also enable us to provide evidence of abuse or assaults when they do happen so the police can bring more prosecutions against people who assault our staff.”
Any recording not used as evidence will be automatically deleted after 30 days. A study published by West London NHS Trust showed the wearing of the cameras led to a reduction in the seriousness of aggression and violence in reported incidents and modified patient behaviour in a positive way.
Motorola Solutions supplied the Edesix VB-300 body worn cameras for the trial. Fergus Mayne, Country Manager for UK and Ireland at Motorola Solutions, said: “South Western Ambulance Service joins a number of organisations around the world that are looking to video and in particular body worn cameras to improve public safety. We’re extremely proud to be a part of this important trial that will play a vital role in protecting ambulance staff who are on the frontline every day, saving lives.”