Southland District Council rolls out bodycams to protect staff from abuse

'This initiative will help to reduce the risk of abuse and harm'

Southland District Council rolls out bodycams to protect staff from abuse

Public-facing employees of Southland District Council (SDC) will start wearing bodycams as early as next year amid rising cases of customer aggression and abuse.

In an announcement, the SDC said it amended its Privacy Policy to allow the use of body-worn cameras in situations where conflict could likely erupt.

The bodycams won't be worn every day, the SDC clarified, and they will be clearly identifiable when in use by employees.

Staff will also be required to verbally disclose that their camera is capturing video footage, according to the council.

"This initiative will help to reduce the risk of abuse and harm and provide impartial evidence of any incidents that arise," said SDC chief executive Cameron McIntosh in a statement.

The SDC is rolling out bodycams for staff amid increasing cases of customer aggression and abuse towards its employees. In the past 12 months, there have been two near-miss incidents involving staff who were carrying out site visits at private properties as part of their duties.

"The safety of our staff is our first priority when they are required to interact with members of the public," McIntosh said.

The use of bodycams is expected to begin in the new year, according to SDC, after the completion of staff training and implementation of new procedures.

Protection from abuse

The latest measure from the SDC is in line with recent steps taken by other organisations to protect their employees amid rising violence and abuse against them.

In Australia, Woolworths said they are investing in CCTV upgrades and two-way radio headsets to protect staff amid rising cases of retail abuse.

New Zealand's Woolworths also recently had to ask its customers to be respectful to retail staff ahead of the upcoming busy holiday season.

A survey from Retail NZ in October revealed that 92% of retailers have experienced some form of retail crime in the past 12 months, with reported higher risks of physical injuries and death.

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