The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is the first Ambulance Service to trial body worn video cameras in a scheme that launched at the beginning of October.
Approximately 40 of the Trust’s frontline staff will be trying out the use of body cameras in a bid to offer them greater support against the rise of incidents of violence and aggression.
Alan Gallagher, Head of Risk, said: “The health, safety and welfare of our staff are of upmost importance. We want to take every precaution possible to ensure that our employees are safe whilst at work.
“Our staff are reporting more incidents of this nature and we are working closely with the police and other partners to respond to those perpetrators with warning letters and, where necessary, criminal action.
“From previous reports, we know that most of these circumstances happen away from CCTV covered areas so using body worn video cameras will mean that our staff can record evidence of abuse or assaults when they happen, such as when they are in a residential property attending to a patient. 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.”
The number of reported physical assaults on NEAS staff has increased by 23% compared to last year. The numbers of addresses across the North East flagged for the potential caution or violence has also increased. This sits against a backdrop of more than 350 prosecutions that have been brought for attacks on ambulance staff over the last year nationally. The scale of the problem is believed to be much greater.