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The first British hospital with an on-site police station equip officers with Reveal body cameras

13-05-2015

Reveal body cameras being used by hospital police staff

The first NHS hospital to establish a police station on site is now issuing security staff with Reveal RS3-SX body cameras to deter attacks.

Health bosses said they hope the move will reduce threatening behaviour at the Royal Blackburn Hospital in Lancashire, and help bring any offenders to justice.

The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which also runs Burnley General and some smaller hospitals, reported 223 assaults on staff in 12 months from 2013 to 2014.

The figures showed assaults had almost doubled when compared with the year previously, when 114 attacks were recorded. 

The £80,000 police station opened at the Royal Blackburn last April after frustration over the number of police call-outs.

Hospital guards will be kitted out with the “high-tech” Reveal body cameras as part of a new initiative to tackle the rising number of assaults and aggression against NHS workers.

During 2013/2014, aggressive incidents involved 30 of every 1,000 staff members at the hospital.

Reveal body cameras reduce attacks on staff

Jed Morris, security and governance manager for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: 'This is a brilliant new initiative for the hospital and will really help to protect our patients and staff when they're on our site.

'All security officers will undertake thorough training to operate the equipment and the recording, storage and use of the video footage will comply with current law and guidelines.'

The RS3-SX cameras are around the size of a pack of cards and are worn on a security vest.

As officers patrol the hospital they are switched off. But if a potentially violent or dangerous situation arises they can be switched on and instantly begin capturing the event.

The hope is that this alone will be enough for the person to reconsider their actions but if not, the audio and video footage recorded can then be used as evidence in court to secure a conviction.

Mr Morris said: 'It is rare that physical assaults occur on East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust sites and figures show that they are about half of the national average rate.

'However, the trust takes a zero tolerance approach towards any kind of abuse, verbal or physical, against its patients, staff or property.

'The development of technology and easy availability of things like body cameras make it a natural development that we deploy such measures to further increase safety for all.

'Reporting of incidents has increased, reflecting the seriousness with which the trust, and its security providers, take them.

'We are confident that this measure, like the presence of a police officer in the emergency department, will have a significant effect on reducing the number of cases of abuse that occur and maintaining a level well below national average.'

In 2011/12, only 84 assaults on NHS staff were reported. Figures showed 14 staff members were targeted per 1,000 employees.

Chairman of the East Lancashire Patient Voices group, Russ Mc Lean, said: 'I would have to say that anyone that chooses to attack NHS staff is an absolute moron and it should not be tolerated.

'The staff are trying to do their work and help people while they are at their most vulnerable.

'Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, the security guards are not able to restrain members of the public and so for evidence-gathering purposes, these cameras are a wonderful idea, and anything that assists the trust in bringing about a prosecution is a good thing and I support it wholeheartedly.

'We have one of the busiest A&E departments in the north west and on a Friday and Saturday night, when staff are trying to deal with people who have decided to have a drink too many or use drugs, then A&E is like a war zone for staff.

'Thankfully, the A&E department at Blackburn has calmed down and that's because the security guards were introduced, and two police officers are now based there full time.' 

Learn more about the RS3-SX body cam