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Antisocial behavior prompts introduction of body-worn camera for staff at Lymington Harbor

A WAVE of anti-social behavior has prompted Lymington Harbor Commissioners to equip patrol personnel with body-worn camera systems.

Describing a number of incidents over the past year as “very, very difficult,” Lymington Harbor Master Ryan Willegers said port staff were dealing with intoxicated people entering the pontoons , causing property damage, jumping into the river and mistreating staff.

He said: “Last year was really bad. It was a challenge for our staff because no one wants to be in these situations, even if they are fully trained to deal with them. “

Port staff treated intoxicated people entering the pontoons

Following meetings with other Solent port authorities and the Hampshire Police Maritime Support Unit, the LHC has made the decision to invest around £ 3,100 in a body camera system. It includes five cameras that are shared between the staff and the system needed to download and store all necessary footage.

Mr Willegers said: “We have received feedback from a number of other port authorities who are already using this technology that it can be a very effective tool in mitigating bad behavior.

“The consensus was that when people heard that the staff had a body-worn camera that would start recording, they changed their behavior accordingly. “

Noting that the cameras were purchased primarily for deterrence purposes, Mr Willegers said that while they are now worn by patrol personnel at all times, they are only turned on under a very limited set of circumstances.

“The fault is disabled and they would only be used in the event of a serious breach of general instructions, such as a serious speeding violation in the river or if a staff member was called in to deal with a difficult situation.”

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

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

Mr Willegers added: “To the best of my knowledge, we have not yet had any circumstances in which we need to use the technology this year.”

“Last summer was very difficult for several ports and not just for Lymington. I haven’t spoken to them all yet, but from our perspective this year has definitely been better in terms of antisocial behavior.

The body-worn camera system complements an existing video surveillance network that covers several areas of the port. A Notice to Mariners was updated in July to include the use of body-worn cameras.

He specifies: “Video surveillance and video images are recorded in order to enable the port captain to exercise his statutory functions and in order to promote maritime safety, crime prevention and public safety. They can also be used in the prosecution of offenders.

Mr Willegers added: “The technology is here now if we need it, but our mindset is that we wish we never had to turn on the cameras.”

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