Parking wardens and animal control officers will wear body cameras as part of a trial following incidents of “serious abuse” from members of the public.

Abuse sparks camera trial

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If you have been thinking of giving that city parking warden a piece of your mind, you had better smile for the camera.

A body camera trial is being rolled out for Nelson parking wardens as well as animal control officers this week, following 27 incidents of “serious abuse” from members of the public in the last year.

As well as staff being subjected to threats and verbal abuse, there have been nine cases where officers have been physically assaulted.

The one-month trial started yesterday and Nelson City Council, in partnership with its regulatory contractor Environmental Inspections Ltd, is hopeful the body cameras will defuse aggressive situations and provide accurate information about what happened and who was involved.

Nelson City Council group manager strategy and environment, Clare Barton, says that officer health and safety is “paramount”.

“Council hopes that introducing body cameras will help to defuse situations where officers may be at risk,” she says.

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

Clare says the cameras can also identify any gaps in staff training and provide clear evidence for reporting to police.

Trials by other New Zealand authorities have shown that body cameras have helped to decrease cases of abuse.

A decision on whether to make the body cameras permanent in Nelson will be made after the trial finishes next month.