Why the U.K. embraces bodycam systems to protect frontline professionals
The United Kingdom is hardly a unique case but for several reasons they are leading the push for widescale implementation of bodycam systems to protect their frontline professionals. In many industries they face dangers and uncertainty, which British politicians and industry leaders found absolutely unacceptable.
What has caused the U.K. to implement bodycams in so many industries, so fast? What are the most important factors for politicians and industry leaders, and what did they see was needed? Who uses bodycams in the U.K. and why do they use them? We dive into why the safety of frontline professionals and society, as well as transparency, is paramount in British society.
Bodycam systems protect and serve everyone in the U.K.
An indication of the widespread support for bodycam systems at all levels of U.K. society can easily be found:
“Bodycams are an exciting new technology that will build trust, allow police officers to do their jobs and increase transparency and accountability.” –Boris Johnson as Major of London
“Bodycams are one of the best introductions into policing in the past 10 years, making officers feel safer and reducing false claims against them.” – National Chair of the Police Federation
“Staff safety is one of our highest priorities; if we are unable to protect our staff, we are unable to provide a service that’s fit for purpose for the public we serve.” – Service Manager, North East Ambulance Service
A recent poll conducted in Scotland shows that a whopping 82% of the public wholeheartedly supports bodycam implementation for the police. 84% agreed that bodycams would increase their confidence in Scotland’s police with 71% saying they will always feel safer knowing that interactions are recorded.
The public, politicians, company executives and especially frontline professionals in the United Kingdom have embraced bodycam systems with open arms. At every level of British society there is a widespread understanding that bodycam systems help address challenges. Some of the challenges that bodycam systems are seen to address in the U.K. are civilised interactions with the public, evidence collection, and transparency of actions. Furthermore, having a great place to work for frontline professionals who serve society is crucial: it is necessary for staff and is cost-effective in terms of reducing turnover, sick leave and lawsuits resulting from abusive or violent incidents.
Bodycam solutions to combat societal challenges
Scientific evidence of bodycam effectiveness has also been a great foundation for U.K. politicians to implement laws allowing their use in a variety of settings.
According to Cambridge University, bodycams herald a “profound sea of change in modern policing”. Their research found that in a policing area of millions of people, complaints against officers were reduced 93% overall. The researchers found that bodycams result in an equilibrium of truth through their role as impartial observer.
Another Cambridge research, focused on public transport found a consistent 47% reduction of violent interactions due to bodycams.
In healthcare settings, researchers found that bodycams reduce the amount of incidents and complaints against staff. They also found high levels of support amongst patients and staff, and calculated that the cost can be offset through fewer complaints, injuries and lawsuits.
2022 results from supermarket chain Tesco’s bodycam program show that there is a 20% reduction in violent incidents already after just a few months!
The benefits provided by bodycam and mobile video evidence platforms has been accepted in the U.K. Evidence of their effectiveness can be found in the reduction of incidents, violence and complaints against frontline professionals over years of varying studies.
U.K. industries and organisations succeeding with bodycam solutions
Police in the U.K. have been working with bodycam systems for 17 years, and were some of the first in the world to adopt the technology. Bodycams are now used by nearly all police departments in the U.K. with over 20,000 units serving just London’s finest and the public they serve.
Studies have shown the effectiveness of bodycams in healthcare settings, with dozens of hospitals as well as ambulance services across the country embracing bodycam solutions. Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer of the NHS describes why: “every member of our dedicated and hardworking NHS staff has the fundamental right to be safe at work and it is our priority to eliminate violence and abuse, which we will not tolerate.”
Recent results from the period 2020-2021 showed that 90% of employees working in retail experience verbal abuse with 65% also being the victim of violence. This worrying trend has resulted in many known retailers implementing bodycams to protect their frontline professionals: TESCO, JD, Sainsbury, Matalan and Boots to name a few. U.K. lawmakers also directly take action as these worrying numbers resulted in a new law protecting retail workers so they can do their job safely and without abuses.
Northern Railways, Southwestern Railways, Virgin Trains and Welsh Railways have implemented bodycams for their tens of thousands of employees over the last few years. Something had to be done as over 88% of frontline professionals experienced verbal abuse or worse. SWR director Alan Penlington explained: “These body-worn cameras are designed to do just this, by deterring anti-social behaviour on our services and reducing the number of assaults our colleagues experience at work.”
More than a few members of parliament, and local politicians have been wearing bodycams for several years to protect against abusive protesters. The BBC reported that many are subject to abuse, threats and malicious allegations, leading politicians to embrace bodycams to protect their person, their office and their reputation. Member of Parliament David Davies finds that his bodycam protects him on the way to his office: “I’ve had flag poles shoved in my face and if I have to push objects out of the way, people have made allegations that I’ve grabbed them. So now I switch on the camera every time I walk up and down to College Green.”
Over 5600 bodycams protect correctional officers and prisoners in England and Wales. Bodycams have served as visual deterrents for violence in U.K. prisons for years, and also provide much more usable evidence for courts compared to the traditional prison CCTV system. The goal was clear: to create prisons that are places of safety for everyone involved.
Engineers working on the U.K.’s public roads have been equipped with bodycams recently as a direct answer to the verbal and physical abuse faced by employees. With over 3000 incidents a week across the U.K., leading executives said enough is enough. The initial investment is seen as a necessary expenditure to protect their staff from rising aggression, which also pays for itself in the long run through less incidents and lawsuits, employee dissatisfaction or sick leave.
School crossing guards in several towns have already embraced bodycam systems to combat rising abuse. The Essex County Council stated that “the safety and well being of our school crossing patrol officers, and the safety of children and families they help to cross the road, is our utmost concern.”
The widespread adaptation and implementation of bodycam systems in the U.K. is a clear indication of global trends. More and more countries, industries and organisations are using bodycams to address their challenges. In the United Kingdom bodycams are accepted by a large majority at all levels of society. The focus there is centered around four crucial points:
Any frontline professional has the right to safety, respect from the public they interact with, legal protections whenever necessary and besides that, full transparency for society. The result of better and more rewarding work will pay for itself through bodycam technology: with more employee satisfaction and less damages and courtcases.
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