Aggression is endemic in many industries
In november 2021 Dutch aggression expert Caroline Koetsenruijter published her new book titled and translated into ‘The Aggression Paradise’. The findings of the book confirm that Dutch employees in many industries face endemic aggression and it is at an all time high. This has severe consequences; for those involved, their employers and society as a whole. With several necessary recommendations such as the recording of evidence, conviction of offenders and direct negative consequences, the author aims to address this societal problem.
With aggression towards employees at unacceptable levels, action must be taken now to protect them during their shifts, and afterwards with support and legal action against any offender. What bodycams add to this debate is clear: altered behaviour of offenders when they know they are being filmed, indisputable evidence that will provide objective proof of incidents, and consequences for offenders as a result.
Aggression is endemic: the facts and the consequences.
In 2019 a government funded survey in the Netherlands found that 29% of all employees experienced some form of aggression in the last year. This means that over 3 million employees in the Netherlands alone have been subjected to all manner of aggression. There have been 2.25 million cases of intimidation. Just to give an indication of some industries facing this problem: there has been a 14% rise of aggressive behaviour towards the police between 2018 and 2020. 81% of journalists have been the target of aggression. 74% of care workers who have experienced aggression in their careers. This data clearly shows that aggression is endemic in the Netherlands. Another critical issue is that with all these incidents there is little action to combat them, as only 24% ever report them to their organisation.*
The sheer number of incidents leads to massive problems for organisations. For example, 200,000 care professionals are thinking of changing careers due to consistent aggression.* These numbers researched by Koetsenruijter paint a very severe picture of aggression in the workplace. From police to hospital staff, from firefighters to municipal workers, all have experienced incidents of aggression in their career. The author calculated that Dutch employers lost over €600 million in 2014 alone. This number, as well as incidents of aggression, is only rising.*
The result is very negative consequences for both employees and their employers. ‘The Aggression Paradise’ contains data which show that employees tend to act differently as a result of the fear of aggression, that aggression influences their decision making process, and that many more are considering a change in profession. This has a serious effect on how companies and organisations can conduct business.
What can be done and how can bodycams help?
There are several recommendations in the book about what can be done to address this issue that affects everyone. Some ideas are to create a safety officer position within organisations, to always report incidents, to always go to the police to sue and prosecute, to show these incidents to the public and to create direct negative consequences for anyone who acts aggressively towards staff. These are all strong and useful recommendations to combat endemic aggression, for which the bodycam is the proven effective tool.
Earlier research from 2021 found that Belgian police feel significantly safer and more legally protected with the bodycam. Hospitals in the Netherlands report safer working conditions, and that the bodycam provided needed video evidence. A large portion of Dutch Municipalities already use cameras to protect employees from incidents of aggression. Fire departments are massively adopting bodycam technology to protect employees. The list goes on and on, and for good reason.
The bodycam has proven time and again to be an effective tool to address aggression in many industries, and has the capability to answer all of the recommendations set out in this new book.
Reporting incidents and going to the police to sue: For this it is absolutely crucial to always have video evidence to back up your claims, and to protect employees from counter claims. Also, in order for high prosecution rates, the police need hard, objective evidence provided by bodycams in order to convict.
Show these incidents to the public: Through the use of bodycams incidents can be clearly recorded and disseminated with the public when privacy regulations are upheld. Through bodycam software that automatically blurs faces you can adhere to European privacy protection laws while still making this unacceptable behaviour visible. Furthermore, as often perpetrators also film with their phones and only partially, the bodycam can help record the complete situation and objectively record both sides of the camera. The bodycam images are offloaded with full adherence to privacy regulations at the end of a shift, and are ready for the employer to use when necessary.
Create direct negative consequences: These negative consequences can be decided upon by the specific organisation and can range from refusal of admission to prosecution by the courts. But for all consequences you need a solid evidence base in order to act. This evidence base is provided by having a bodycam solution in place.
Creating a safety officer position: This is an excellent suggestion in order to highlight the importance of this issue to all affected industries and organisations. For this position to function, there is a need for proven and effective tools to gather evidence and create the conditions in which the safety officer can address incidents whenever necessary. With the video evidence provided by bodycams, the safety officer will be able to do their job to protect employees.
The author mentions bodycams as a seemingly effective tool to protect and prosecute. Organisations need to plan properly and respect local privacy regulations. ZEPCAM client experiences show that bodycams have proven time and again to create safer working conditions, provide indisputable evidence, and help prosecute the offenders that are causing so much personal and financial damage, year after year.
It is necessary to enable digital support for your organisation, so that you can deal with aggression and unexpected situations. Protect your employees by allowing them the technology that will support them in their daily duties, and allow them to never work alone in a network of connected employees. Bodycams help create better and safer working conditions in all industries, leading to more rewarding work for employees. What this book highlights once again is that, when it comes to aggression in the workplace, we are doing too little, and doing it too late to protect our frontline professionals.
*Koetsenruijter, C. (2021). Het Agressieparadijs: Wat we moeten doen om de verhuftering in Nederland te stoppen (2nd ed.). S2uitgevers.