National Highways traffic officers patrolling motorways and A-roads to wear body cameras to curb abuse from angry motorists
Body cameras are being given to traffic officers because of the levels of abuse they are experiencing from 'angry drivers', says National Highways.
Those patrolling the country's motorways and some major A-roads are now going to be equipped with the cameras after a series of incidents in which staff have been threatened, intimidated, had objects thrown at them and even been physically assaulted. Scroll down to watch the video
The job of National Highways traffic officers is to help keep road networks running smoothly. They are often the first on the scene if there’s been an incident and help to reopen the road by clearing obstructions and spills, organising the recovery of broken-down vehicles or supporting emergency services.
But despite their primary role being to help, abuse is becoming an increasing problem as they work, says National Highways.
Incidents range from abuse being shouted from a vehicle, foul language, objects being thrown at patrols, targeted threats and even physical attacks.
In just one year National Highways says it recorded 214 incidents concerning the treatment of its staff. The incidents recorded took place between January 2020 and January 2021, despite the impact of the Covid19 lockdowns on traffic numbers.
Studies have shown, says National Highways, that the presence of a camera can reduce the potential for confrontation, provide an accurate version of events without the need for timely and costly investigations and, should an incident occur, provide vital evidence needed for a police investigation.
Footage has also been released by National Highways to show some of the aggressive situations faced by traffic officers, which have been captured on some of the first cameras to be given to staff.
National Highways Customer Service Director, Mel Clarke, said: "The cameras have been provided to help protect our traffic officers and will be part of their uniform. Like a seat-belt, we hope the camera isn’t needed, but it will be there if necessary.
"Our traffic officers should not have to face abuse or even threats while simply doing their job – which is to help people and keep our roads moving. We want to reassure them, and warn anyone who thinks such abuse is acceptable, that we will do all we can to support our traffic officers and vigorously pursue justice for any criminal activities directed towards them."
Traffic officers will wear cameras similiar to those used by other organisations and emergency services including police forces and ambulance trusts.
Costing £500,000 to roll out the technology to patrols, the cameras are designed to withstand 'rigorous use' and will capture high quality video and audio in all weather and light conditions.