Northern Ireland traffic wardens may get body cams for safety
Traffic wardens in Northern Ireland may soon be equipped with body cameras to protect them from threats on the job.
A public consultation has been launched by the Department for Infrastructure and the service provider NSL.
Between 2015 to 2016 it was reported that more than 100 threats were recorded against traffic wardens.
In Coalisland in November 2016, the first traffic warden seen in the town for years was threatened and forced to flee after just half an hour.
A notice on the new camera consultation explains: "They are activated by the traffic attendant in situations where a recording may help improve safety. The data is encrypted and stored on the device (officers are not able to view or edit the footage) and transferred to a dedicated secure storage facility."
The recordings would then be deleted after 90 days unless needed for investigation.
The notice continues: "Staff safety and professionalism is of utmost importance. Recording devices provide a factual record of events and have been shown to support staff in difficult situations and ensure a positive outcome for all."
Kenneth Reid, UUP councillor for the Coalisland area, said he reluctantly accepted the need for cameras.
"Traffic warden's aren't everyone's cup of tea, but at the end of the day it's their job. It's like people going in to hospital and abusing staff, there's no difference," he said.
He predicted the cameras would still not convince wardens to return to the worst areas.
"I would be doubtful, no job is worth getting threatening or abusive language over."
He said he could also understand the frustrations of local retailers against strict parking fines.
"It's hard out there for businesses with rates going up and I do sympathise," he said.
"It's because there was no forward thinking years ago about implementing car parking. But issues like this are at a standstill because there's no Executive in government."
During the first three months of this year, 20,502 parking tickets were issued across Northern Ireland.
Belfast was the most heavily fined area with 8,331 tickets issued, followed by 1,919 in the Newry area.
The £90 penalties are halved if paid in the first two weeks.
The consultation is open to June 12 and the public can send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.