TRAIN staff are to be issued with body-worn cameras in a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.
ScotRail said the technology would be used on the busiest routes from later this month.
About 200 station and on-train staff will wear one of 21 cameras at some point during the 11-week trial across locations including Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Paisley.
While other UK train operators have used the cameras in the past, it will be the first time they have been employed on ScotRail services.
The cameras operate on a looped pre-recording system which means footage is available from 20 seconds before the device is turned to record mode.
ScotRail said staff would only turn cameras on when doing so could help prevent, or document, incidents. A yellow symbol will be visible on the front of the devices when video and audio is being recorded.
Jacqueline Dey, ScotRail’s operations and safety director, said: “While crime has fallen for ten consecutive years on Scotland’s railways, we’re determined to make rail travel feel even more comfortable for customers and staff.
“Body-worn cameras are one element of this ongoing commitment, and we are confident that customers will find them to be a reassuring presence.
“Following the trial, we will carefully review feedback from staff, customers and industry partners before taking decisions on the next steps for the technology.”
Footage recorded by the cameras is encrypted and not viewable by frontline staff. Audio and video could potentially be used as evidence in court to allow all parties to see exactly what took place during an incident.
Chief Superintendent John McBride, divisional commander of the Scotland division of British Transport Police, said: “BTP welcomes the initiative by ScotRail, which will further increase the safety and security of those who work and travel on Scotland’s rail network every day.
“Scotland’s railway is an extremely low-crime environment and the chance of becoming a victim of crime is very small. Nonetheless, staff have the right to go about their duties without the threat of encountering anti-social behaviour of any kind.”
He added: “The cameras will be a useful additional tool in deterring anyone intent on behaving in an unacceptable manner, as well as providing vital prosecution evidence for the courts.
“The body-worn video cameras used by BTP in Scotland have already proven their worth in similar situations.”
Concerns were raised last year over the use of body-worn cameras failing to meet data protection laws amid plans for their use to be extended by police.
Police Scotland was said to be examining the use of “officer-worn CCTV”, which has been routinely used in the north-east of the country for a number of years.
Police forces in England have credited the technology with increasing conviction rates.
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