South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is to trial the use of body worn cameras by ambulance crews to establish if the technology can act as a deterrent against aggression and violence and aid future prosecutions.
The trial, which will last 12 months, is expected to begin in the coming weeks and follows the trust’s successful application for funding from NHS England and NHS Improvement. The trial will involve approximately 400 body worn cameras being used by crews across five areas covered by the trust – Thanet, Medway, Gatwick, Brighton and Guildford.
The trial also forms part of a wider trust approach to tackle violence and aggression against staff, which includes close working with police services to ensure all incidents are robustly managed alongside conflict resolution training for staff. The trial will feed into wider national work already under way to ensure the trust benefits from trials which are already taking place elsewhere in the country.
In 2019-2020, SECAmb staff reported 245 incidents of physical assault. In the same year, staff reported 219 incidents of directed verbal abuse. Staff are encouraged to report all incidents so that they can be investigated and wherever possible the individual prosecuted and held to account for their actions.
Emma Williams, Executive Director of Operations at SECAmb, said, “One assault against a member of staff is one too many. Our staff should expect to be able to come to work and care for people without the risk of violence or abuse. Sadly, there are a small number of individuals who seem to think this kind of behaviour is acceptable.
“We are keen to establish if body-worn cameras can help to further protect our staff by acting as a deterrent and also provide valuable evidence for use in court. We will study the findings of the trial closely and also continue to work with police colleagues across our region and ambulance services nationally to tackle this issue that the huge majority of the public find abhorrent.”