Bolton Council is the first in the country to equip every civil enforcement officer patrolling on-street parking with head cameras.
Civil enforcement officers (CEO) will be issued with state of the art head-mounted video cameras, which are the size of an AA battery, to help improve the service they provide and deter assaults.
A total of 12 of the units will be deployed in the borough from next week (November 16), enough for every CEO to be fitted with one when they are on patrol.
The head-cam technology has been pioneered by the council’s parking enforcement contractor, NSL, which has introduced the services for a small number of local authorities. However, Bolton will become the first local authority where head-cams are used by every CEO patrolling on the street, as part of their standard equipment.
The units are being issued in order to improve the quality of evidence of illegal parking gathered by CEOs when they are on duty. Each camera is fastened to the side of the CEO’s cap and it records images continuously over the CEO’s shift. These images are then downloaded on to a computer when the CEO returns to the office.
In Salford, where the technology was first introduced more than two years ago, the number of on-street incidents fell by 30 per cent involving either threats or actual violence against CEOs, proving they act as a visible deterrent.
Over the past three years, there have been 53 "code red" incidents on CEOs in Bolton. Code red are physical attacks, including spitting, punching, CEOs being driven at and being threatened with a weapon. Of these, 17 have been reported to the police. There have also been 12 "code yellow" verbal abuse incidents.
Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Environmental Services, said: “A minority of people think that civil enforcement officers are a legitimate target for verbal and physical abuse, and the fact that they are being filmed on camera should hopefully make people think twice.
“The footage can also be examined to ensure CEOs are not overstepping their powers and that they are acting in a courteous and professional manner.
“They will also be crucial in gathering evidence on the circumstances of why a penalty charge notice has been issued. Often it can boil down to one person's word against another and we will now have the video evidence to help clear up any doubts.”
Tim Cowen from NSL added: “Assaults on our staff are a minor but persistent problem and as far as we are concerned one assault is one too many. These cameras have proven very effective in deterring assaults. We’ve found that in areas where we use them, because we have a real-time video record of the service we deliver, it’s a great way of demonstrating to the public that we are delivering that service to the standards they would expect.”
Off-street car parking is managed by National Car Parks Limited (NCP).