Badge cams for Greater Anglia conductors to deter abuse of railway staff
Conductors on Greater Anglia trains are being issued with new ‘badge cams’ to deter anti-social behaviour and staff assaults.
Every conductor now has access to one of the hi-tech badges – which contain a small built-in video camera - to help them defuse difficult situations.
The badge cam works by constantly recording, but not actively storing footage until a flap is flicked. Once the camera has been activated, it will keep filming until it is stopped. 30 seconds of footage prior to the activation is also automatically stored – useful in case of an escalating situation.
Green and red lights will also show, while a camera symbol will also be unveiled, so it is clear that a recording is being made.
Nathan Long, one of Greater Anglia’s Senior Conductors, who was recently assaulted by a passenger who threw a drink at him, says he feels ‘reassured’ using the badge cam, and so do customers. He said: "In some ways, it's more like a reassurance.
"On some of the later London services that can be busy with revellers, people see it and it makes them feel safer.
"Most people, if they're angry or they've had too much to drink, they instantly stop as soon as they see the camera, they calm down.
"I was assaulted the other day and I had it then, the evidence goes to the police.
"If you get ticketing issues, customers can see the camera and they know that if it was to escalate, then there's evidence captured, especially fare evaders.
“And because the camera helps prevent altercations from escalating, everyone on the train feels calmer and safer."
On average, eight Greater Anglia on board staff suffer assaults every month.
Greater Anglia’s Crime and Intelligence Manager, Mark Burgess Lawrence said, “We want to protect our staff at all times, and the badge cams will help to stop disagreements escalating to the point where someone becomes abusive.
“Assaults on other customers are thankfully extremely rare, so this is about protecting our staff – but everyone benefits as its unsettling for everyone when an altercation occurs.”
The majority of offences against rail staff arise from a minor issue such as staff challenging an individual with an incorrect ticket.
Alcohol is also a major factor in staff assaults with those under the influence more likely to become aggressive.
Common assault without injury is the most commonly reported offence. Serious injuries or assaults with weapons are very rare. Most assault offences are spitting, grabbing clothes and pushing victims.
Sergeant Paul Thompson, of the British Transport Police, said: “Body worn cameras are an effective tool used internationally by police forces to gather evidence of crimes and provide honest accounts of dealings between the police and public.
“The rolling out of these devices to train operators is very welcome; it ensures their employees are given the safety afforded by personal cameras, and when the worst happens, and a staff member is assaulted; there is strong evidence ready to be used.
“Violence against employees on the railway will always be taken very seriously, and officers will use every means at their disposal to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.”