Ambulances in 1066 Country and across the region are to be fitted with CCTV to help deter crimes against paramedics.
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), which is responsible for running services across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, made the announcement this week in a bid to help protect front-line ambulance staff from verbal and physical abuse.
It said the move is designed to improve safety and to deter the small minority of patients who believe it is acceptable to abuse ambulance staff when they are trying to do their job.
Many of SECAmb’s ambulances and single response vehicles already have CCTV and discussions have been taking place to finalise the policy on its use.
The new systems, which record images but not sound, are expected to come into operation in the coming weeks.
Liz Spiers, spokeswoman for SECamb, said: “The CCTV will be used for the purpose of crime prevention, investigation of road traffic collisions and the prosecution of offenders.
“It is hoped that as well as protecting staff from abuse it will also act as a deterrent for the thankfully rare occasions vehicles are targeted by thieves.”
The footage obtained by the CCTV will be encrypted and password protected so it can only be viewed by those with appropriate authority to do so.
The NHS trust responds to 999 calls from the public, immediate and urgent calls from health professionals, as well as providing non-emergency Patient Transport Services in some areas.
SECAmb’s head of fleet, Justin Wand, told the
“It is an important move to ensure our staff are appropriately protected.
“We have been working with our unions to ensure we have a policy that protects staff and patients.
“CCTV fitted on vehicles ready to be switched on will come into operation in the coming weeks as our vehicles come through their scheduled maintenance.
“All our staff have the right to work in a safe and secure environment and verbal abuse or physical violence must never be seen as part of the job.”