Firefighters to wear body cameras after spate of attacks while on duty

From Monday, October 21, body worn cameras are set to be introduced in the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service in the hopes of improving the safety of our firefighters.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 11:16 am
Body worn cameras are set to be used by firefighters. Photo: Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue

The service previously conducted a pilot scheme for this but this is the first time that body worn cameras will be issued to all stations.

The cameras are set to be worn during incidents by the officer in charge to further support the safety of firefighters.

Since 2017, the fire service has seen a 7% increase in attacks and abuse towards its firefighters.

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Recently one of the fire engines was damaged when a man threw a missile at it and earlier in the year crews were abused in Hetton and Saltwell Park.

The service is hoping to have the cameras in use in time for the Bonfire period when attacks are usually at their highest. It is planned for each fire appliance to have two staff wearing cameras.

TWFRS group manager Tony Markwell, Head of Operations said: “Abuse and attacks on our firefighters is reprehensible and as a Service and responsible employer we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our crews.

“As well as a potential deterrent effect, we also believe that appropriate body worn camera footage will help to support a successful prosecution.

“This will additionally send a clear signal to anyone who attacks our firefighters that we will pass on all evidence to Northumbria Police so that they can pursue the perpetrators.”

“We will take all necessary steps to ensure passers-by and those involved in the incident are aware that we are using body worn cameras, including clearly stating that “Video and Audio recording is taking place. However, we believe that our community will support these measures as an effective means to protect our firefighters when they are trying to protect them, their homes and businesses.”

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act received Royal Assent in September 2018 which created a new aggravated offence of an assault against a member of the emergency services. It also doubled the maximum sentence from six to 12 months.