BWCs, the future of law enforcement

Public Safety

Security Buyer takes a look at the operational benefits of body worn cameras and its history of adoption in The Middle East marketplace 

Body worn cameras have been established as useful in law enforcement and private security segments. However, the availability of open-platform body worn camera systems and increasingly smaller, lighter and more discreet sensors has made this technology also ideal for addressing the needs of a much wider range of industries today including transportation, healthcare, retail and more. 

In many industries an unfortunate part of being an employee involves dealing with disorderly, aggressive or violent behaviour. From bus drivers to staff working in hospital wards, this is not only a nuisance but potentially poses a threat to these individuals, business operations and the general public.   

Equipping a workforce with body worn cameras has been proven to add a visible deterrent, helping teams diffuse disorderly conduct before it escalates. When someone is inclined to threaten staff and realises they are being recorded, research shows they are less likely to behave aggressively due to fear of the consequences. For example, in 2018 Virgin Trains announced it was the first UK train operator to provide body worn cameras to cover all its frontline people. By the following year this had resulted in assaults on staff falling by more than half.  Additionally, results from a survey revealed that over 80% of staff felt safer at work while wearing bodycams and nearly 90% would recommend them to colleagues. 

Transport workers are not alone in facing risks of aggression in the workplace. Many healthcare professionals and retail staff also face acts of aggression or violence on a daily basis. In hospitals and social work, staff may be confronted by upset patients and their loved-ones, while in retail this can be at the hands of angry customers or a shoplifter. Body worn cameras can both deter offenders from lashing out at staff and make other customers or patients feel safer.  

Trustworthy documentation to enable legal action  

If incidents do happen, body worn cameras provide first-hand audio and video recording which can help to establish the cause or identify suspects. This extends to helping to assess fault when it’s a case of someone’s word against another’s as body worn cameras record incidents as they visually appear and sound to the camera wearer. When combined with traditional video surveillance, they provide valuable additional insight for incident analysis. 

Disputes between patients and healthcare or social assistance organisations can use the evidence provided by body worn video footage to come to a resolution. A 2019 study by the National Health Services found that 60% of Mental Health Ward staff could recall a work incident “where they wished they’d had a body camera.” Staff can use body worn camera footage to document events and situations where an assault has taken place and enable legal action to be taken where necessary. As a result, more and more healthcare services are equipping staff with wearable video solutions.  

This is vital for those industries which regularly deal with conflict or criminal activity in the workplace, such as healthcare, education, transport and retail. In fact, The US Bureau of Justice Statistics found that despite retail workers comprising 9% of the US workforce, they accounted for 13% of all workplace violence incidents. This placed retail as third-highest after law enforcement and mental health professionals in the rate of workplace violence victimisation. To help ensure these instances are being met with consequences, wearable body worn cameras provide first-hand evidence.   

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Media Contact
Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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