Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Parking wardens trial cameras

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People have verbally abused parking wardens, leading to the camera trial. Photo / Ruth Keber
People have verbally abused parking wardens, leading to the camera trial. Photo / Ruth Keber

Parking wardens in Rotorua are trialling body cameras in a bid to prevent abuse.

So far this year three cases of abuse of wardens have been reported to police, and Rotorua Lakes Council's chief operating officer Dave Foster said there was always a risk when abuse happened it could escalate.

The council was looking at what extra tools could be provided to act as a deterrent.

Mr Foster said the three cases involved verbal abuse and none ended in court action.

Rotorua's four parking wardens are trialling the different bodycam models.

The miniature cameras are attached to their clothing and they can choose whether to record their entire day or only record incidents.

The two-week trial, which is not costing the council, is in its second week and a final decision whether to continue with the cameras would be made following the trial.

Mr Foster said the cameras acted as a deterrent.

"Health and safety for staff is a priority for the council and the bodycams are another form of protection for our parking staff because they will know they're being filmed," he said.

"Our community is generally supportive of parking staff and while incidents involving confrontations or verbal abuse are relatively infrequent we believe any form of abuse is unacceptable."

Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Stuart Nightingale believed it was a good idea.

He said while he was not aware of many complaints to police, he suspected parking officers were "fairly resilient" and well trained on how to de-escalate situations and manage risk.

He said the cameras could be seen to be a deterrent for poor behaviour and he expected there would be a drop off in abuse if people knew they were being recorded.

"There's a lot of pretty sound arguments for law enforcement being equipped."

A police spokesperson said there were no current plans for police to trial body cameras.

Benefits of video cameras:

* Defuse aggressive behaviour

* Hold those responsible to account

* Provide clear evidence in the case of disputes

- Rotorua Daily Post

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