Paramedics to be kitted out with body-worn cameras

Emergency-care workers become the latest public servants to be equipped with the mobile recording technology

Paramedics are to become the latest group of public-sector professionals to be equipped with body-worn cameras.

The Department of Health and Social Care announced this week that a pilot scheme involving 465 ambulances will see the vehicles and the paramedics aboard them equipped with the cameras. Although no firm plans for a wider deployment have yet been unveiled, the department added that there is “potential for a full rollout to all paramedics, and other priority areas” in due course.

The technology is being deployed to help combat violent attacks on ambulance staff. Over the last 12 months, 354 people have been prosecuted for assaulting an ambulance worker, and the department said that this figure is likely “a fraction of the total incidents”. 

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During that time more than 15% of the wider NHS workforce of more than 1.5 million people have been the victim of violence perpetrated by patients or their friends and family, the department added.

The cameras form part of “new wellbeing pledge” for staff that will also see the introduction of physiotherapy for NHS workers, as well as quicker ways for them to access mental-health support.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Whilst the buck must stop with abusers, we want to do everything we can to prevent physical and verbal abuse. Issuing paramedics with body cameras will help protect them and increase prosecutions.”

Body-worn cameras are now widely used by police officers in the UK, and have also been rolled out across all the 5,600 prison officers in England and Wales. Several local councils have also kitted out their frontline enforcement staff – such as environmental officers – with the technology.

Sam Trendall

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