A trial of mini CCTV cameras is being carried out in Edinburgh in an attempt to crack down on hate crimes in the Scottish capital.
The police are handing out the cameras, which are the same size as a USB stick and can be easily concealed, to shopkeepers who have previously been subjected to racist attacks or repeat abuse.
The cameras will be attached to the body and the staff are able to start recording at the touch of a button when an incident arises.
It is designed that the mini CCTV cameras will complement existing CCTV and other security measures in place. Vital evidence can be recorded and used by police to find and prosecute offenders.
Some 17 retailers in the north of Edinburgh are to trial the system and, if successful, the scheme could be extended across the capital. All participating shops will have to display a sign to tell customers that CCTV is operating in their establishment.
Inspector Mark Rennie, of Drylaw Police Station, claims the mini ‘body cams’ will increase the opportunities to arrest those responsible for hate crime and take appropriate action.
He said: “We often find that store security guards and shop staff receive racist abuse when they challenge shoplifters or refuse purchases.
“It’s totally unwarranted and unacceptable, and these cameras are intended to provide reassurance to staff who have experienced such an incident, by offering a deterrent and helping to assist police collect evidence to identify offenders.
“Although the devices are discreet, they are small enough to be worn on the body to ensure that vulnerable staff have access to the recording facility at all times and in areas of their premises that previously would not have been covered by their own CCTV.”
Foysol Choudhury MBE, Chair of Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Council, welcomed the roll-out of the mini cameras and hailed them as a valuable tool to safeguard retailers.
“We also believe that it would make local business owners and employees confident to conduct their business as well as report instances of hate crime,” he added.
“As a lot of people are not aware of processes about reporting hate crimes, the body cameras will make them confident about garnering evidence of such crimes. We hope that this step will increase rates of reporting of hate crimes.”