Video cameras for Bay parking officers

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Photo/file
Photo/file

Parking officers in Te Puke and Katikati are now equipped with video cameras in an effort to increase personal safety and deter abuse.

Following a short-term trial, Western Bay of Plenty District Council has approved the permanent use of the cameras that will be attached to each officer's uniform.

Compliance and monitoring team manager Alison Curtis said the cameras were to increase safety for both staff and the public by acting as a deterrent to abusive and violent behaviour.

"Our staff do an excellent job of dealing with the public in sometimes difficult situations, when individuals become abusive towards the officers. The cameras are another tool to deal with such situations - which are the exception rather than the rule.

"We are not the first council to trial this method. It's an approach being used by a growing number of councils around New Zealand, with increasing success shown in reducing levels of abuse."

The officers will be wearing a badge on their uniform advising people they may be videoed, and the cameras will be visible to the public.

The camera is not constantly operating and will only be activated by the parking officer if a situation begins to escalate, Ms Curtis said.

Last year parking staff reported regular incidences of abuse, ranging from minor abuse and swearing to physical threats and abuse. This included threats against an officer's family, and lit cigarettes flicked at staff.

Since the cameras have been in operation on a trial period since mid-November, no instances of abuse have occurred.

Ms Curtis said if a parking officer believes a situation is likely to escalate with an individual, they will switch the camera on and warn the offender.

"This in theory deescalates the situation because it can be used as evidence in any potential court proceedings - and takes away any anonymity of the potential offender."

The option to equip the council's animal services officers with cameras could also be considered in the future.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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