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    Horsham Rural City Council community safety officer Alan Frankham with a bodycam.

Safety priority as council arms staff with body cameras

By Jessica Grimble

Horsham Rural City Council will introduce new measures to protect its community safety staff after a series of threats and assaults.

The council’s community safety unit staff will wear body cameras in an attempt to combat antisocial behaviour. 

The cameras will collect evidence of community interactions and any abusive or aggressive behaviour will be reported to police. Recordings can be used as evidence to court proceedings. 

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A number of professions including police and other emergency services and security guards have worn body cameras for some time. 

The council’s local laws team leader Jason Brady and his team enforce Acts of Parliament and the council’s local laws. They oversee functions such as animal management, litter and footpath maintenance – focusing on community safety, service and wellbeing. 

“The cameras come in regard to a number of threats and assaults towards staff in the past 12 months. There were three matters within a month that required police attendance,” Mr Brady said.  

“Staff are trained to de-escalate matters and remove themselves, if required, until police can attend. But no-one should be subjected to this behaviour in the workplace.

“It’s not just about workplace safety, either – it will collect evidence which will provide a 100 percent accurate conversation for a magistrate to hear.” 

CCTV is installed throughout the central activity district and at Horsham’s pound. 

Staff will wear the body cameras from next month. Mr Brady said most issues arose in relation to animal management – where staff spend the majority of their time. 

“It’s been proven that people curb their behaviour if they know their conversation is being recorded,” he said. 

“It’s also proven, through other law enforcement agencies and councils, a reduction in complaints by more than 50 percent – because this is about protecting the public as well as workers from false complaints. 

“The evidence is available in front of you.” 

Mr Brady said staff would advise people when cameras were in use; the public can also request they are switched on.  Information is encrypted and the recording remains in storage for a period of time. 

The cost of the cameras has been managed within the council’s current budget. 

Horsham is the first Wimmera council to introduce the technology. 

“It’s that common place that school crossing supervisors in Tasmania are given them so they can record car behaviour,” Mr Brady said. 

The entire June 22, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!