University of Bristol security staff to wear body cameras


By Eve Bentley-Hussey, SU Correspondent

From Friday 29 January, Bristol University security will be wearing body cameras when patrolling campus and University-owned residences.

In an email sent to first-year students, the University announced security teams may be wearing body cameras in an attempt to keep students ‘safe, secure and well’ in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The equipment will be worn by officers as a standard part of their uniform to monitor interactions between students and staff.

'Security officers may be wearing body worn cameras when they are patrolling campus and residences' | Epigram / Hannah Worthington

The university explained their decision was down to the ‘small minority that sadly continues to ignore restrictions, risking health by hosting or attending social gatherings.’

The cameras will always be filming but the officer must activate ‘record mode’ to start recording.

This comes after police broke up an illegal party in Unite House on 19 January, leading to two students paying a fine.

It is unclear whether private security staff, hired by the university to enforce pandemic restrictions, will also be equipped with body cameras.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Sarah Purdy commented on the new policy, saying that, ‘In order to better protect students, staff and the wider university community our security officers may be wearing body worn cameras when they are patrolling campus and residences.’

She continued: ‘This is something that has been under consideration for some time and has been used successfully by other universities.

‘We have been working closely with colleagues from Bristol Students’ Union to ensure transparency, openness and understanding around the decision to implement this new technology.

‘The equipment may be worn by security officers as a standard part of their uniforms and will help ensure appropriate behaviour in their interactions with students, and vice versa. It will also help us to resolve any disputes quickly and transparently.

Bristol Mayor says students unfairly criticised for not following COVID-19 rules
Bristol University Student Union calls on landlords to cut rents as pandemic drags on

‘We fully respect the privacy of students, staff and the public and as such the cameras will not be recording and monitoring all activity on a continuous basis.

‘We hope this will improve trust and confidence between students and security staff, protecting both from unacceptable behaviour that can arise during stressful situations and help to identify people from outside of the university who are found on our property.

‘We know how difficult things are for students at the moment and fully appreciate that the vast majority are complying with national and university guidelines to follow social distancing rules and keep to their living circles.

‘The introduction of body worn cameras will help protect these students while providing us with information to quickly resolve issues with the minority who continue to break the rules, particularly around social gatherings.’

Featured: Epigram / Robin Connolly

What do you think of the new policy on security staff wearing body cameras?