Threatening acts and aggression from the public have led to two Leicestershire rubbish tips outfitting their staff with body cameras. Theories suggest that the aggression is linked to budget cuts to waste disposal and recycling centres. Leicestershire County Council hopes that the presence of the body cameras will both prevent future aggressive incidents, or help with de-escalation of any events that do occur.
Leicestershire Public Unhappy with Budget Cuts
The Leicestershire County Council has been facing extra pressure to tighten budgets, and cost-cutting might mean cut-backs on recycling and rubbish collection. Local residents unhappy with these cut-backs and limited waste disposal resources may be taking out their frustrations on the front-line waste disposal staff, who are the ones reporting threats and aggression from the public. The council, committed to the near £1 million a year savings from their overall budget cuts, want to find a way to protect those at the front line. The answer? Hopefully, body cameras.
Body Cameras Provided to Staff on a Trial Basis
Body cameras are a
preferred option to de-escalate potential aggressive situations
because of the neutral evidence that they provide. The cameras will
not offer a ‘biased’ opinion of the situation, but merely capture
events as they occur. Currently only two locations will be outfitted,
but if the County Council sees the change in behaviour from the
public that they hope for, there is a chance that the cameras will be
used for numerous other public service centres. The trial began in
August 2018 and goes until February 2019.
Some might worry that the cameras are an invasion of privacy, but luckily that should not be a concern. The cameras will not be on at all times to provide privacy to the environmental and transportation staff that will be wearing them. The cameras, which are highly visible on the staff uniforms, can be easily switched on in the event of unacceptable behaviour.
Protection for the Front Line Workers
There have been a total of 39 reported acts of aggression to front-line environmental and waste disposal staff, but the reports have been difficult to qualify and confirm. The Council hopes that the video and audio evidence provided by the cameras will put an end to the staff abuse, protecting their budget and the workers simultaneously. The council may have to reconsider their actions if the unacceptable behaviour continues.