Body-worn cameras to be rolled out across West Midlands Ambulance Service

Ambulance staff across the region will receive 126 new body-worn cameras, as part of a region-wide trial aimed at reducing assaults and catching perpetrators.

In a report for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) directors, security and safety head John Kelly wrote that NHS England has provided £920,000 towards the scheme.

WMAS has purchased 1,246 new cameras and they will be distributed among the 15 hubs based on their ambulance output and the number of physical and verbal assault reports. Wearing them will be voluntary, he adds.

Figures in his report say 1,230 “violence and aggression incidents” were reported by crews between April 2020 and January 2021, with the team based at Willenhall, near Walsall, seeing the highest number at 189. Donnington’s crew reported 42 while the Shrewsbury hub reported 31, the ninth and twelfth highest rates respectively.

Donnington in Telford is due to receive 70 cameras, with 56 headed for Shrewsbury.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust board of directors will discuss Mr Kelly’s report when it meets remotely on Wednesday, March 31.

Mr Kelly writes that the use of body-worn video at WMAS began in September 2019, when Motorola provided 30 cameras on a free trial basis, and they were used by teams based at WMAS’s Dudley, Erdington and Hollymore hubs.

NHS England has contributed more than £8 million to England’s 10 ambulance trusts to continue trials of the devices, he says, adding that they will be distributed at WMAS from May 1 onwards.

“It is proposed that the distribution of cameras will be based on a combination of each hub’s peak double-crewed ambulance output along with the number of reported violence and aggression incidents,” Mr Kelly writes.

“The wearing of a body-worn camera will be voluntary. An article was published in the Weekly Briefing on March 18 giving an introduction and overview of the project.”

Between last April and January 2021 there were 453 physical assaults reported against WMAS staff. Sixty-five were reported by crew from the Dudley hub, giving them the highest rate, while Donnington and Shrewsbury were seventh and joint-13th with 24 and 12 incidents respectively.

In the same period 777 verbal assaults were reported across the region. The Willenhall hub accounted for 136 of these, while Shrewsbury was joint 10th with 19 and Donnington was 12th with 18.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News