Security companies adopt body cameras to overcome challenges at sporting events
"Football is a very passionate game, and a lot of what we see is bad language / anti-social behaviour spilling over into aggression and sometimes violence – mainly towards us, the players, managers and officials..."
We spoke to Achilleus Security Managing Director Mario Garcia, about some of the challenges they face in their industry and how body cameras make a difference.
"We cover a number of sporting venues across London, including Wembley, QPR, AFC Wimbledon, Charlton Athletic and London Stadium, and the main issues we deal with are anti-social behaviour, ground regulation infringements and health and safety,” Garcia said.
"Football is a very passionate game, and a lot of what we see is bad language / anti-social behaviour spilling over into aggression and sometimes violence – mainly towards us, the players, managers and officials. I’ve been in the industry for 32 years now and a football fan all my life, and I believe that that there has been a steady increase in that kind of behaviour – we’re seeing more of that now than we’ve ever seen. We have also witnessed several cases of racial abuse and hate crime; infact, our team was present where alleged racial abuse was reported at the recent Haringey Borough FC vs Yeovil Town FC, so having quality evidence gathering tools is vital in what we do in the modern-day security and stewarding industry."
Some people don’t like being told not to do something or being held accountable for their behaviour and very often it can be our word against theirs and then this kind of technology is a game changer for us.
"We have to step in to diffuse the conflict or deal with situations where there has been anti-social behaviour. And this usually has one of two outcomes – us stepping in either de-escalates the problem with a gentle word, or it can easily escalate it. Some people don’t like being told not to do something or being held accountable for their behaviour, and very often, it can be our word against theirs and then this kind of technology is a game-changer for us. "
“If an interaction results in an ejection or physical use of force then suddenly the risk of injury or harm and prosecution to both our security guards and the subject increase dramatically, so it’s always a last resort and not something we jump to easily, and to have this form of technology is an absolute must to us. On the whole, people are well behaved, and they are just out to enjoy a game of football or an event, but unfortunately, the actions of a few can spoil it for the many. So, the responsibility is on us to identify the people correctly that may be causing issues or problems and deal with it appropriately and remove them if necessary."
Garcia explains that "as a football fan myself, I see and understand how passionate fans can be and also how in certain situations, the passion spills over and fans may behave in a way that they wouldn’t normally behave. We must ensure that the match is enjoyed by everyone young or old and people that cause issues are identified and dealt with appropriately."
How have body cameras made a difference?
If it was up to me and we could afford the outlay, I would have body cameras on every single member of my team because, in our vast and wide experience, they are a tool that helps curb, record and identify behaviour and incidents. When people see themselves on the front-facing screen, they can go from extreme emotional behaviour to compliant and friendly in 1 second flat, which can sometimes be enough in itself to help us to resolve the issue.
Since using body cameras our team members’ performance has improved as on many occasions they can be positioned on their own within a venue or stadium and they feel better protected when dealing with customers and incidents, knowing that it won’t just be their word against the customers.
If the subject refuses to comply and needs to be spoken to further or ejected, then the cameras provide evidence of the interaction, which benefits both them and us. It gives us a sense of confidence when dealing with people because we know that we will justify our actions with clear evidence. We’ve had customers complain and make allegations against our team members who were involved in incidents. Still, body cameras can help prove or disprove anything that comes up and allow us to take any necessary actions confidently.
We’ve also found that since using body cameras, our team members’ performance has improved as on many occasions they can be positioned on their own within a venue or stadium, and they feel better protected when dealing with customers and incidents, knowing that it won’t just be their word against the customers.
Equally, we believe the cameras protect the customer as much as our staff because they ensure they are being dealt with correctly and properly. We can be held accountable should they feel they may have been treated unfairly or perhaps illegally. This type of technology isn’t something for people to fear; it’s to benefit us all should the need arise.
The Football Supporters Association encourages body cameras when used correctly because it makes us more open and transparent. The moment I put a camera on an officer, it demonstrates our professionalism because what we do is open to scrutiny and review. But to me, there’s every satisfaction in that, and if it makes fans and customers more confident in what we do and improves public perception of us, then that’s a win-win. Body cameras are definitely reaping a reward in terms of the cost of investment. If you think about how much a claim against our staff could cost our business, our clients business, or a team member in regards to reputation or legal expenses, then compared to the investment of the cameras makes it a no brainer. We’ve definitely benefitted from dealing with complaints quicker, more professionally and more definitively, so there’s already huge savings there.
How is the Reveal camera different to others on the market?
I’ve been using body cameras since 2008, and I’ve looked at and used many different other makes out there, and although I really like some other models, I have to say the D5 is the best camera for us for several reasons. I’m a big fan of the front-facing screen; I recently saw first-hand how a subject instantly changed his behaviour when he saw himself on the front-facing screen. Other cameras out there look like a black box with a blinking light, but it makes a big difference if people can see their faces in it and know I am being filmed. The movable head for us is far, far better than a static camera. It means we can position it on the chest harness or the Klickfast stud on the uniform with the confidence that we can capture the part of the subject that we want or need, instead of their chest or your jacket.
The flexibility behind being able to mount them in a number of places is a big bonus to us as we want a system that is adaptable. We also believe that Live streaming will be even more of a game-changer for us and our clients as it gives the opportunity to be live on a situation with video and audio and will make such a difference operationally to me and my clients and control rooms.
I’m a big fan of the front facing screen, I recently saw first-hand how a subject instantly changed his behaviour when he saw himself on the front facing screen.
The encryption is also important to us in case a camera comes off during an ejection – we can’t have the footage ending up on social media or into the public domain, so to wear the cameras confident that they can only be accessed by us is so reassuring to us and our clients. Having experienced several different types of evidence management software, I’m also a fan of DEMS 360. The set-up is really easy, and we were able to do it ourselves - it didn’t require any support or installation service, and it worked every time. I like how things are laid out, video’s upload really quickly, and it’s straightforward to operate. Also, the fact that it is included in the cost of the camera makes a huge saving compared to other cameras on the market as having 19 cameras on our current fleet can save us a huge amount of money, allowing us to invest further into more cameras.
Garcia explained, “I don’t recommend products or services easily unless I am really impressed and satisfied by not only the products but also the service, and so far I am extremely impressed with everything about Reveal, from their sales team, their support team and especially the D5 camera, it’s really a game-changer and a must for us.