Parking wardens in Brighton and Hove are to test body-worn video cameras.
The trial is aimed at trying to reduce the number of assaults on parking wardens.
Tim Cowen, director of communications for NSL, the company that employs the wardens, said: “Assaults on our staff are running at about one a week in Brighton and Hove, which in our book is one too many.
“Cameras are the best thing we’ve found for reducing assaults.
“There’s no specific reason that we’ve chosen Brighton and Hove.
“It’s just a trial. If it doesn’t make a difference we wouldn’t want to go ahead with the expense of it.
“I reckon we use them now in about 15 to 20 locations.
“Some clients are uneasy about the political implications and as we work for local authorities, we respect that.
“We’ve found that it makes our staff safer and reassures the public about the quality of the service we provide.”
Mr Cowen said that there would be only a small number of cameras used during the trial period which will start in a few weeks’ time.
NSL said that it had pioneered the use of body-worn cameras for parking officers five years ago, and they are now widely used across the UK.
Mr Cowen said: “The cameras take a real-time video record of everything a civil enforcement officer (CEO) does on a shift.
“In one town where we use them, Bolton, they have virtually eradicated assaults on staff, so we are convinced of their value.”
But he added that they also helped NSL to investigate complaints again parking officers or about the service they deliver.
“It is the nature of parking enforcement that we sometimes get complaints about the behaviour of our CEOs – for example, that they gave incorrect advice which led to someone receiving a parking ticket.
“With real-time video evidence, we can establish if there is any issue with the quality of our service.
“In Bolton we had 16 such complaints and after checking the video we found them all to be groundless.
“That was good news for us, but also good news for the public, since we could absolutely guarantee that the service was being delivered properly.”
He said that if the company did need to respond to any issues then the video cameras were also useful as training aids.
“If we do have CEOs whose advice to motorists is not 100 per cent clear we will provide refresher training.
“In this case, video of an incident is invaluable in helping us identify and deal with the issue.
“This doesn’t happen very often but when it does we want to be able to correct it quickly. “We’re delivering a public service and the public has the right to expect the highest quality standards.”
He added that CEOs equipped with Body Cams would have highly visible badges on their uniforms to make it clear that filming was taking place.
“It’s not meant to be a secret. For us, the main reason for body cams is as a deterrent against assaults – and deterrents only work if they are known about.
“We want everyone to be well informed about this.”
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