Newquay parking officials wearing cameras to catch abusive motorists
TRAFFIC officials in Newquay are being given cameras in a bid to catch abusive motorists in the act, the Cornish Guardian can reveal.
In the first move of its kind in Cornwall, the resort's four civil enforcement officers (CEOs) will now wear the head or body cameras during every shift.
Recorded footage will provide video evidence to support police investigations should a CEO be subjected to an assault or abuse.
It is hoped the scheme, a joint venture between Cornwall Council and police, will reduce assaults and abuse against the town's parking patrol officers.
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It is being piloted in Newquay and could pave the way for more initiatives to be developed elsewhere in the county.
Jerry Mitchell, a police community safety sergeant based at Bodmin, said the recorded footage would be used as evidence, enabling the police to deal with crimes effectively.
"It came about because the council were concerned about attacks on parking officials," he said.
"I met with them and it was a suggestion I put forward.
"They suffer abuse and aggression from people and as they're usually on their own there's no one to back it up. This will provide more evidence.
"The council spends ages dealing with complaints. When cameras are used we find the number of complaints drops.
"There's a problem in several major towns, but because of the proximity of Newquay it's a good place to trial."
All four CEOs in Newquay have been given a head camera as part of a three-month trial. The equipment was provided by Cornwall Council's antisocial behaviour (ASB) team.
Mike Lawton, of Cornwall Council's health and safety team, said the idea exemplified a "great multi-agency approach to a problem.
"All CEOs in Cornwall also have a panic button behind their badge which records conversations," he said.
"Some of the language used against them is absolutely disgraceful.
"There have been 36 recorded instances since last April but I am sure that's under- reporting. One of the CEOs given a head camera said to me that the change had been amazing."
He said statistics would be gathered around March.
Newquay's sector police inspector Dave Meredith said it was a great initiative which would provide further protection to Newquay's CEOs and was fully supported by police. As well as collecting evidence, the cameras would provide a visible deterrent.