HOSPITAL staff in Cardiff and the Vale are being issued with body worn security cameras in a bid to protect them from violence.

The Cardiff and Vale Health Board is the first in Wales to provide the high definition security cameras.

The cameras have been commissioned to reduce the likelihood of violent assaults against staff, with 25 per cent of incidents against NHS staff across Wales occurring at Cardiff and Vale UHB.

Since wearing the devices, security officers are already seeing a change in attitude towards them.

Security team leader David James said: “If someone is being abusive or violent, we notify them about the camera and once they know it’s filming them they back down. It’s an excellent deterrent to protect our staff. Unfortunately sometimes this doesn’t always work and we have used the footage to convict individuals.”

Junior sister, Jacqui Westermoreland, works in the Emergency Unit. Jacqui notices often that alcohol and drugs play a key part in the number of aggressive outbursts towards staff.

Jacqui said: “The cameras will help me feel at ease as I have been verbally abused, physically abused with kicks and punches and have been spat at. As a sister, I look after the staff and patients here, but I’m often asked to deal with incidents like these.

“I came from a medical ward and the first time seeing such violence was quite disturbing and shocking. When vulnerable and elderly people see these outbursts it’s very scary for them as well as the staff here.”

She added: “It can also be down to people’s frustrations. They can be scared, they don’t know what’s going on sometimes, and if the patient is very ill, the family can become very anxious. But there’s no excuse for violence be it verbal or physical.

“We very much welcome the cameras here. It’s an opportunity for us to prosecute.”

In 2008/09 only two criminal prosecutions were carried out in the Cardiff and Vale UHB region and reportedly only seven throughout Wales.

But since the health board introduced a violence and aggression case management team in January 2009, the rate has increased substantially.

Between 2009 and 2015, the health board has noted 640 incidents referred to police, 313 convictions and 443 other sanctions carried out such as anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).

Case manager Carl Ball, who provides support to staff who have been attacked or abused, said the high-definition cameras will accompany the current live cameras placed around the University Hospital of Wales site.

Carl said: “The audio aspect of the mini cameras is “vital” when it comes to successful prosecutions. The cameras were introduced because of the level of abuse, threats and violence against NHS staff.

“They were brought in as a safety measure so our security officers could warn the person being aggressive that they were being recorded and the footage could be used in a criminal prosecution.

“Recently, we had an incident happen on a Friday night where staff were assaulted. The Police became involved and thanks to the partnership working, the defendants appeared in court the following Monday and received an eighteen month custodial sentence. This is an excellent example showing that violence towards our staff will not be tolerated.”