Southern Railway’s Security Speaks Body Cameras
Southern Railway is an example of a non-police entity operating body worn video as part of their security measures. Co-ordinator Colin Green first looked at the introduction of body cameras when managing a team of Rail Neighbourhood Officers operating on trains and stations in the south of England. Colin is looking into the feasibility of purchasing more Reveal body cameras in the future to make the equipment personal issue.
“I became aware of the need to gather evidence when on shift and the need to have a tool which would act as a deterrent. We had certain powers as Rail Neighbourhood Officers, but there was only so much we could do – there was a big need for gathering evidence”, he said.
“So I did some research looking for the sort of thing we utilise needed and found Reveal Media. I asked them if they had something suitable that could be used to collect evidence and to be used as a deterrent. They did indeed have exactly what we were looking for.”
“We quickly realised it wasn’t just about cameras, but also about data management, and the software called DEMS that came with the cameras was soon something that we found we couldn’t do with without."
“To get the project off the ground, funding was necessary from network rail for the cameras in the first place. Network Rail thought the product was so good they bought some cameras themselves! They started using them for rail crossing patrols after I advised them that the video was secure for prosecutions, had a time saving element, provided good evidence which encourages early guilty pleas and means people can be charged more easily.”
Making a difference was a key objective, “there is an increased visibility with the cameras. Our security staff wear hi-vis jackets a bit like the police, which can sometimes be provocative when dealing with drunk or aggressive people, they just don’t like the uniform. However, when we introduced the cameras people would ask “is that on?” and their behaviour changed, even when the cameras weren’t on, so the cameras made a difference immediately.”
“The first time we used the footage as evidence, the person concerned was shown the video, pleaded guilty, accepted the penalty notice and that was that. It was all down to the use of the camera. After that, I understood that I could not afford not to have them.”
“The volume and quality of sound is superb on the RS3-SX. So is the HD video quality. Even in low light, which is where most of our patrols and work takes place, it doesn’t affect the quality. It’s a more robust camera too.”
Having a specifically designed storage solution is also something Green found useful “DEMS (Digital Evidence Management System) is so easy to use – even for non-technical people. It makes data collection so easy and reliable. Things are laid out in a simple way and all you have to do is click the videos you want and press a few buttons."
“The front facing screen is brilliant…. We have CCTV in all trains and on all stations, but it’s completely different when somebody is standing in front of you with a camera. Not only does it defuse situations, but people then start apologising.”
“The articulated camera head is spot on. We have different sized people here, all different builds, shapes and sizes. And all of them are in different situations that change throughout the day. So it’s vital that we capture the right images, perfectly framed. We’re also able to turn the camera head around if it makes some people feel uncomfortable.”
“We had a confrontation where the person in question was very distressed by the camera, so we were able to turn the camera head around and continue recording audio with the option of turning the camera head round again if needed.”
“We also needed to train our staff on how to use them. There was some hesitance to use them at first because it was assumed that people would play up to the camera and make confrontations worse. As it turned out, the cameras had the opposite effect.”
“There was a big learning curve when we initiated the project. It was a lot more complicated than you might think. It’s not just about buying cameras, attaching them to people and filming things. We had to think about policies for everything: data protection, using cameras, when to film, when to stop filming, what to do with the footage once it had been filmed.”
“The cameras are fantastic value for money. If you want the best, then you pay for the best, but there are other cameras out there where you pay a similar price but get half the product.”