By Martin Graham
A SCOTTISH company has created a new personal CCTV system which could offer safety protection for frontline public service workers.
Perth’s Scottish Communications Group has developed an ID badge which doubles as a high definition personal CCTV camera.
The ‘My Witness’ video badge looks like a regular ID badge as worn by council or NHS staff.
But if the wearer is threatened or comes into danger, a quick flick of the badge reveals a video camera which automatically starts recording the incident.
Last year there were more than 12,000 attacks on NHS staff in Scotland.
The device weighs only 130 grams and can record up to ten hours of footage which can be downloaded to provide a record of events.
Paul Gibson, Managing Director of SCG, said that the ‘My Witness’ gadget could be used by nurses, teachers, police and even parking attendants.
Mr Gibson said: “It’s designed for public service workers who might work alone and be involved in a situation where a member of the public might endanger them.
“In the normal course of their work, the camera is never activated and its juts used as an ID badge.
“But if they get into a situation where they feel threatened they can say ‘I’m going to record this now’ and flick down the badge.
“This new video badge has a variety of useful applications in a large range of employment sectors and we believe will play an important role in deterring crime and ensuring the safety of personnel.”
He went on to explain that the camera badge can act as a deterrent: “When the camera is activated, it does give the other person a visual warning and there is a sign saying CCTV is now recording.
“The tests that have been done show that as soon as the user says they are going to start recording the potential problem dies down.
“If an individual is hell bent on causing trouble they might carry on, but at least there’s a camera recording it for evidence.
“We estimate that about nine out of ten situations are defused as soon as the person says it’s being recorded.”
An earlier version of the device was used by parking attendants at Perth and Kinross Council, where their use resulted in a dramatic reduction in verbal abuse against staff.
The cameras have also been trialled by Tayside Police, where the footage captured has been used as evidence in court to secure convictions against criminals.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “The cameras have been particularly effective in identifying those involved in anti-social behaviour such as riding motorbikes on public roads.
“Very often those on the motorbikes make off as soon as officers arrive but by filming the culprits on the body-worn CCTV, officers can then share the images amongst colleagues in a bid to identify those involved.
“This has had a high success rate with a number of individuals being identified and dealt with.”
A UNISON spokesman welcomed the introduction of the badges if they could reduce attacks on staff, but cautioned against putting staff into unsafe situations.