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Nelson joins councils with body cameras

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/07/2016

Another council is giving its staff body cameras as those already using the devices are singing their praises.

The Nelson City Council says since April last year there have been nine assaults on parking wardens and animal control officers and 27 instances of serious abuse by members of the public.

From this week, they will be trialling new body cameras in a bid to improve safety.

They hope the devices would not only defuse situations but also provide more accurate information about incidents, says group strategy manager Clare Barton.

"They will also help the public by clarifying exactly what happened, so that any further action is based on fact," she said.

Wellington animal control officers have been using cameras since April and those in the Hutt Valley since July last year.

There had been a marked difference in public attitudes since the cameras were adopted, says the region's manager for animal services Les Dalton.

"Certainly by the presence of the cameras on the bodies, we have noticed a downturn in verbal abuse," he said.

"We don't have the sort of abusive aggression that was often faced by enforcement officers."

Officers had provided very positive feedback and the public were generally not fazed by the cameras either.

"We had two people object to the presence of them. Once we pointed out they were there for officer safety and were only used and switched on in the event of a confrontation they were quite happy," he said.

"We have to just satisfy people the data was being held securely and not being used for purposes that it wasn't designed for."

Nelson's trial will run for a month from July 11 and a decision about a permanent run will be made after that.

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