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Antisocial behaviour prompts body worn camera introduction for Lymington Harbour staff

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A WAVE of anti-social behaviour has prompted Lymington Harbour Commissioners to equip patrol staff with body worn camera systems.

Describing a number of incidents last year as “very, very challenging”, Lymington Harbour Master Ryan Willegers said harbour staff dealt with intoxicated people trespassing on pontoons, causing damage to property, jumping into the river and abusing staff.

He said: “Last year was really bad. It was challenging for our staff because nobody wants to be in those situations even when they are fully trained to deal with them.”

Harbour staff have dealt with intoxicated people trespassing on pontoons
Harbour staff have dealt with intoxicated people trespassing on pontoons

Following meetings with other Solent harbour authorities and the Hampshire Police Marine Support Unit, LHC took the decision to invest around £3,100 in a body worn camera system. It includes five cameras which are shared between staff and the system needed to download and store any necessary foot-age.

Mr Willegers said: “We had feedback from a number of other harbour authorities who were already using this technology that it can be a very effective tool in mitigating against poor behaviour.

“The consensus was when people were told staff had a body worn camera which would start recording they modified their behaviour accordingly.”

Stressing the cameras were purchased primarily as a deterrent, Mr Willegers said while they are now worn by patrol staff at all times, they are switched on only in a very limited set of circumstances.

“The default is switched off and they would only be used in a serious breach of the general directions, such as a serious speeding offence in the river or if a member of staff was called to deal with a difficult situation.”

Body-worn cameras are common for police officers
Body-worn cameras are common for police officers

All footage is recorded in accordance with data protection rules so it can be used as evidence in any subsequent criminal prosecutions.

Mr Willegers added: “To the best of my knowledge we have not yet had a set of circumstances where we have needed to use the technology this year.”

“Last summer was very difficult for a number of harbours and not just Lymington. I haven’t yet spoken to all of them but from our perspective this year was certainly better in terms of antisocial behaviour.”

The body worn camera system supplements an existing CCTV network which covers several areas of the harbour. A Notice to Mariners was updated in July to include the use of body worn cameras.

It states: “CCTV and video images are recorded in order to enable the Harbour Master to carry out his statutory functions and for the purpose of promoting maritime safety, crime prevention and public safety. They may also be used in pursuing prosecutions against offenders.”

Mr Willegers added: “The technology is now there if we need it, but our mind set is we would love it if we never have to switch the cameras on.”

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