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February 13, 2018

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Workplace abuse

Abused recycling workers to be issued with body cameras

Staff at Oxfordshire County Council’s seven household waste recycling centres are to be issued with body-worn cameras after reports of workers being threatened by members of the public.

The county council said staff at the recycling centres will be joining the growing number of employees in the public sector who use body-worn cameras as part of their day-to-day work.

According to the local authority, there are on average around 20 “escalated reports” a year of physical and verbal abuse by a member of the public on recycling centre staff in Oxfordshire.

Desire to reduce incidents

More than 1.25 million people visited the sites in the last year, so the proportion of incidents remains very low, but is still something that the county council and site operators, W&S Recycling and FCC Environment want to reduce.

The staff will be able to record conversations with site users in situations where they feel intimidated or subject to abuse.

The county council said it hopes the presence of the cameras will also “discourage interactions from escalating” and capture evidence if it does.

Enhancement

Oxfordshire’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Yvonne Constance, said: “The safety of our staff and customers is our number one priority and using this technology will only be an enhancement.

“The vast majority of people only ever intend to bring their waste and dispose of it quickly and if they are unsure of anything they will speak to the staff,” she added.

“There have been times, and this is not unique to Oxfordshire, where someone will come along and will seek to intimidate or abuse the staff. This is not acceptable.

“We are being upfront about using the cameras and that alone will help improve many of the interactions on site.”

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