Environment Agency officers in the North East of England are taking part in a six-month trial of body work cameras.
The trial – which started in April – is aimed at assessing if cameras can help reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour, assaults and threats against staff, particularly those working with regulated and illegal waste sites.
Body worn cameras could be rolled out to Environment Agency teams across the country if the pilot scheme proves successful.
The Agency explained the could be used in a variety of ways, including at visits to poor performing sites, illegal waste sites, and even during incident response.
According to the EA, the cameras were suggested by an Agency employee, Paul Whitehall, an ex-police officer, after he was threatened with violence when he and a fellow colleague attended an illegal waste site.
Mr Whitehall said: “I worked with body cameras in the police and saw how effective they can be so suggested we run a trial.”
According to the Agency, officers have reported that wearing the cameras has “prevented threatening situations from escalating.”
The Agency reports, since 2001, it has successfully prosecuted 59 cases of obstruction, hostility or threatening behaviour towards staff, 22 of which were in the North East.
“The safety of our staff is paramount,” Rachael Caldwell from the Environment Agency’s waste and enforcement explained. “They are well trained in dealing with hostile situations and we take any threat against them very seriously. But our preference is to prevent hostility in the first place.”
Officers taking part in the pilot must follow guidelines on use of the cameras. The Agency explained that the cameras will not be permanently switched on and people will be informed if they are being filmed. The footage is automatically deleted after a month unless it is required for evidential purposes.