'Pushed, hit and spat on': Chch parking wardens get cameras

'Pushed, hit and spat on': Chch parking wardens get cameras

Christchurch City Council has rolled out body cameras to all parking wardens today, to help curb the abuse and violence towards staff.

After conducting an eight-week trial, the council has decided to equip all parking wardens with the cameras as a safety measure.

Nineteen incidents of abuse and violence have been reported since the beginning of 2015, with wardens being "pushed, hit and spat on", says council transport operations manager Steffan Thomas.

"Since the earthquakes we have noticed that people are more impatient and that has been reflected in the treatment of our parking compliance team," he says.

He hoped the cameras would defuse situations before they got out-of-hand.

"During the trial we found the cameras had a very positive effect," he says.

"When people saw themselves on the camera screen shouting or swearing, it served as a useful trigger for them to change their behaviour."

The council says they're aware of privacy issues surrounding the cameras so have set guidelines.

A label worn by wardens will let people know they're wearing cameras and while the camera will film continuously, it will only record footage when the warden feels their safety is at risk and a button is pressed.

Wardens must inform the public when they begin recording and why they were doing so. Supervisors can then download the footage and give it to police for evidence.

Mr Thomas says the ultimate aim is to never have to press the record button.

Christchurch City Council is not the first to issue body cameras --  parking wardens and animal control officers in New Plymouth and in the Hutt region in Wellington also use them.

Hutt City Council introduced the cameras in August last year. They work in the same way as the Christchurch cameras will, with wardens pushing the record button.

Divisional manager regulatory services Geoff Stuart says since their introduction, verbal aggression and anti-social behaviour towards staff has decreased "significantly". 

"Our staff have had a very positive experience using the cameras and have remarked about the change in people's behaviour," he says. 

"We're really pleased with the results and will continue using them as an important tool to keep our staff and community safe."