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NSW Health to trial body-worn cameras on paramedics

September 10, 2019 Off By

To deter violence against personnel.

NSW Health is planning a limited trial of body-worn video (BWV) cameras on the state’s paramedics to help reduce incidents of violence on the job.

Deputy secretary for people, culture and governance Phil Minns revealed the planned trial during budget estimates last week, which he said would “commence before the end of this year”.

“I think the aim would be in the range of 50 to 100 and the trial would run for 12 months and be fully evaluated,” he said.

The trial, which will be “weighted trial across metro and regional” areas, will be used to test if [the devices] will operate as an “effective deterrent”.

It follows a six-month trial of 150 BWV cameras with Victorian paramedics during 2017 also aimed at combating rising rates of violence on the job.

In the Victorian trial, cameras were used to record only incidents where paramedics felt at risk or were threatened.

“We are seeking to talk to Victoria to understand what its findings were as well, but at this stage it does not seem as if Victoria is moving to a widespread rollout of cameras,” Minns said.

Department of Health secretary Elizabeth Koff said 300 individuals had been charged with assaults on paramedics since 2014, with a further 1200 reports of “occupation violence” during this time.

“It is quite a challenging area for the paramedics; they go into unknown territory,” she said.

NSW Health will now investigate the privacy implications of introducing the cameras, the estimates hearing heard.

“We have had to go through the appropriate processes with the Attorney-General’s department to establish that we have dealt with the relevant privacy issues that might arise,” he said.

Earlier this year, Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes reportedly called for a trial of the cameras after a series of attacks on paramedics

Jurisdictions like Western Australia are also looking to equip paramedics with cameras, though others, including Queensland and South Australia, have previously said they would not.

NSW Police also told budget estimates last week that it would replace the 5217 BWV cameras deployed since 2015 to allow for automatic recording when officers draw their weapons.