Body cameras trialed

In what is believed to be the first pilot of its kind for an Australian council, Banyule’s parking officers and school crossing supervisors are trialling Wolfcom, a body-worn camera used by police in Australia and overseas.

The Mayor, Councillor Craig Langdon, said that when clipped to a person’s jacket or vest, the small portable device acted like a ‘third eye and ear’, capturing video and audio.

“While the devices are not switched on all the time, they can be very quickly turned on to record verbal or physical assaults, as well as the increasing number of drive-throughs at school crossings, which are endangering the lives of children, parents and crossing supervisors.

“Over the past couple of years there has been an increasing number of verbal and physical assaults on staff and the vision and audio captured by this camera will help support the evidence police need to support any prosecution which may eventuate.”

Cr Langdon said five serious reportable incidents occurred last year, while there were many other more minor incidents.

Abuse included people yelling and swearing at officers, pushing them, spitting on them and even one incident recently where someone tried to run an officer in his car off the road while abusing them.

The pilot will run for 12 months, with two-body cameras trialled on a rotational basis by parking officers and school crossing supervisors.

One of the reasons the cameras are being piloted is that police cannot investigate incidents without video or audio evidence.

Parking and Traffic Management Officer Craig Tipton said it was also hoped that wearing the Wolfcom camera would help deter people from behaving inappropriately or illegally.

“If deterrence fails, at least the vision and audio that we can now capture will hold people accountable for their behaviour.

“What people often forget is that we are doing our job.

“As with any other person who goes to work, we are entitled to protection against risks to our health and safety from the job that we do, which in our case sometimes includes physical and verbal attacks.”

Mr Tipton said he and other officers feel safer wearing the inexpensive camera when they are on duty.