30 September 2022

Bega Valley Shire's rangers will use body-worn cameras to reduce risk of abuse

| Albert McKnight
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Bega Valley Shire Council’s rangers will soon be sporting body-worn cameras. Photo: BVSC.

The Bega Valley Shire’s rangers often face abuse or have to attend potentially unsafe situations, its council has said.

“In 2021-22, one incident resulted in a ranger requiring treatment in hospital and attendance at court for physical assault,” council’s manager of certification and compliance Tony Payne said.

To try to reduce the risk of verbal and physical abuse aimed at rangers, they will soon be wearing body-worn cameras as they perform their work across the community.

“Research has shown a camera worn about the body of law-enforcing personnel acts as a deterrent to verbal and physical abuse,” Mr Payne said.

“No-one should have to deal with harassment or threats simply for doing their job, and these cameras make it clear that threats of any kind will be recorded and if necessary, used as evidence in a court of law.”

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He said rangers would be able to activate their cameras while conducting their duties on public and private property, including carrying out animal control and parking regulation, or when they feel at risk from antisocial behaviour.

“Rangers will always clearly state when a person is being recorded and each of the body-worn cameras have an outward-facing screen, making all parties aware of what and who is being recorded,” he said.

When asked if the recordings would be used as evidence in legal proceedings against those they have filmed, he said the cameras will be used to collect evidence while investigating offences where permissible under relevant legislation.

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Mr Payne said any recording that is not needed for evidence purposes will be deleted immediately, but if the recording of an incident is needed as evidence for court it will be retained for at least seven years before it is destroyed.

“A working copy of all recorded data will also be stored in a secure electronic location with restricted access,” he said.

Council rangers are legally allowed to wear body-worn cameras under the NSW Surveillance Devices Act 2007.

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