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Parking enforcement officers to wear body cameras to increase safety

A Bridlington Informer News Item from Bridlington.net - Visit Bridlington Informer

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Body cameras are to be worn by civil enforcement officers working in the East Riding for the first time in a move to increase safety and prevent abusive incidents.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is to supply all members of its civil enforcement team, whose job is to enforce parking regulations across the area, with the body cameras from this week.

They will be the first civil enforcement team in East Yorkshire to be equipped with the new technology.

The body cameras are being introduced following several incidents in which officers on duty have experienced verbal and physical abuse when being confronted by motorists.

Evidence shows the use of body cameras during heated exchanges can calm situations down and prevent more serious incidents from happening.

Since the start of 2017, the council's civil enforcement officers have reported more than 120 incidents of aggressive behaviour towards them. The most serious incidents included:

• One officer suffering injuries after being shot by a ball bearing gun.
• Another suffering damage to their arm after being pushed into a fence.
• And one officer being filmed by an offender as they were physically assaulted and threatened.

On numerous occasions officers have also been subject to threats of physical harm, shouting and swearing, and intimidation by having cars driven at them and being followed by vehicles and people.

Councillor John Barrett, the council's portfolio holder for operational services, said: "We understand that people can sometimes get angry or frustrated at receiving a penalty charge notice, but that is no excuse for using abusive or violent behaviour towards our officers, who are just doing their job.

"We are equipping the officers with these new body cameras as a deterrent to stop these situations happening in the first place, and to make our staff feel safer as they go about their duties, as they often work alone."

All 24 civil enforcement officers and three civil enforcement supervisors working across the East Riding will be equipped with the body cameras from this week.

The scheme will cost £16,000, which will be paid for through the council's income from parking charges and penalty charge notices.

The body cameras will only be activated for recording by the officer when situations become confrontational.

The footage filmed will also be used to ensure council officers are conducting themselves and carrying out their duties in an appropriate manner during such incidents.

The cameras can also be used to gather additional evidence of parking violations, but the officers will continue to use the current methods of taking photographic evidence and notes at the scene.

Paul Tripp, head of streetscene services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "Many authorities across the country are now using body cameras and they have proved extremely effective in reducing the number of incidents involving abusive and aggressive behaviour.

"But, to clear, this only involves a small minority of motorists, the vast majority of drivers are very respectful to our officers."

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has a clear appeals process which motorists can use if they want to challenge penalty charge notices.