Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has issued frontline staff with body-worn CCTV cameras as part of an initiative to deter anti-social behaviour.
The digital cameras, which clip into the lapel of a jacket, have been given to customer service advisors on duty across the Metro system and local bus stations.
Nexus began a trial of the new technology last year, and it is now rolling out the scheme permanently as it steps up a campaign to reduce low level disorder and fare evasion.
Metro Services Director, Chris Carson, said: “These new cameras will help to deter anti-social behaviour on our network and give reassurance to law abiding customers.
“It will make people think twice about challenging members of staff who are just doing their jobs. Footage can be passed to the police for them to use as evidence. The images are captured digitally, so the footage is crystal clear.
“Overall crime rates on the bus and Metro network remain low, but we are stepping up our efforts to crackdown on issues of anti-social behaviour and ticketless travel. The body-worn cameras provide our staff with a new tool in this fight.”
Metro Neighbourhood Policing Team Sergeant Tim Hand of Northumbria Police said: “The introduction of body cameras for frontline Nexus staff will really help us when tackling issues of anti-social behaviour on public transport and around the stations.
“The fact that our officers can easily access video footage will be a massive advantage to us when it comes to providing clear evidence for convictions.
“This is a great example of partnership working to address the issues of most concern to the public, as well as making sure that public transport continues to be a safe way to travel.”
Inspector Brian Buddo, from British Transport Police, said: “Our research has showed that not only do body worn cameras provide vital evidence in cases and speed up the justice process for victims, but they also protect rail staff and officers from malicious complaints and will reassure the public as they travel on the Metro system.
“The cameras will also help Nexus staff in some of the challenging situations they face as the presence of a camera can often help diffuse escalating incidents.”
Each camera is clearly marked on staff uniforms to let people know that they are being filmed.
Workers activate the recordings at the touch of a button. The footage can be accessed by Northumbria Police and the British Transport Police to support prosecutions.
Nexus staff will only turn cameras on when doing so could help prevent, or document, incidents. A red light will be visible on the front of the devices when video and audio is being recorded.
Other UK train operators are using body-worn CCTV cameras, but is the first time they have been permanently employed on the Tyne and Wear Metro.