Body cameras for Harrogate traffic wardens approved

A Community Enforcement Officer checks the cars parked in Alnwick Market Place'Picture Jane Coltman

A Community Enforcement Officer checks the cars parked in Alnwick Market Place'Picture Jane Coltman

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Traffic wardens in Harrogate will be supplied with body-worn cameras after a significant rise in verbal and physical abuse against them.

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) approved plans to spend £9,000 on 23 body cameras and three docking stations at a meeting on Monday, June 1.

Incidents of abuse against staff have increased in recent years and, since January 2013, eight events have been recorded, ranging from pushing to punching and a head-butt.

As well as these physical assaults, there have been a further six incidents of verbal abuse including threats which were serious enough to merit reporting to the police.

While North Yorkshire Police have taken action against these occurrences, including one prosecution and two more pending, parking services manager Susan McGarry is keen to provide added protection to staff.

In a report discussed at the sustainable transport meeting on Monday, April 27, Mrs McGarry argued that the cameras will not only act as a deterrent, but supply police with more evidence to pursue further action.

Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council cabinet member for sustainable transport, said the safety of her staff was a priority and the number of incidents of abuse against them was ‘significant’.

She said: “This level of abuse should not happen but parking tickets are an emotive subject and people do get worked up about it.

“But that should not lead to the abuse of our staff and if body cameras may help to reduce that then they may be introduced but we need to make sure they are effective.

“We will speak to local authorities who have brought them in to see if they have resulted in reduced incidents or police getting convictions.

“I think our staff will be happy for anything that can make them feel safer in their jobs.”

According to the report, the cameras will not be recording for the duration of the shift and will only be activated when the enforcement officer believes is necessary.

The camera, which will be worn on their chest and be brightly labelled, will capture the previous 30 seconds to ensure that a full picture is gained of the incident.