Northern was formed in December 2004 as a joint venture between Serco Group plc and Abellio. The company operates train services in the north of England, covering three National Parks, Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and routes into the Lake District, serving a population of approximately 15 million.
The company has 4,900 employees providing nearly 2,500 local and regional train services every weekday, making it the largest train operator in the UK.
Northern Rail’s 313 leased trains call at over 500 stations, of which the company manages 462.
The Rail Response Team provides a visible presence on the rail network, improving personal safety and security for passengers and staff.
Northern’s Rail Response Team had been using head cameras to help tackle abusive and criminal behaviour on the rail network. However, the officers found that the head mountings became uncomfortable during the course of a day and could cause some distraction as the users were conscious of it at all times.
In addition, the head-mounted camera was attached by cables to the main unit, which provided a potential risk of the device being ripped off and causing injury to the officer or damage to the equipment.
The team needed a new solution which addressed these issues. The Rail Response Team officers already carry radios, mobile phones, torches and first aid equipment as part of their daily kit, so a body worn video solution must be easy to adopt and unobtrusive.
It was also a key requirement that the operator of the camera should not be allowed access to view the footage, so Martyn Guiver, Northern Rail’s Head of Crime was keen to find a body worn video system that offered a high level of data security and control combined with ease of use.
VideoBadge immediately stood out from other body worn video products for its compact and simple design. The self-contained unit requires no cabling or additional attachments and is lightweight. It fits securely to clothing at chest level, giving maximum field of vision at all times with no inconvenience to the operator. It is activated by pulling down the front plate, the device then records high quality video and audio for up to eight hours if necessary.
Recorded footage is encrypted and securely processed using the included VideoManager software, ensuring user access and data protection controls are enforced. Evidence can easily be exported as video clips or stills if required and non-evidential footage deleted after a specified period of time.
Martyn Guiver also needed to work with a partner able to respond quickly to their particular requirements. He said, “We wanted full control of the position and angle of the camera to correspond with the current task of the officer. They may be seated in a car, walking along a platform or on a train. Edesix were able to adapt VideoBadge to accommodate this, something that not all providers would be willing or able to do.”
VideoBadge helps the Response Team to capture the complete picture when an incident occurs. The video captures the actions of parties involved and unlike static CCTV cameras, the viewpoint can easily be changed by the officer using it to better record faces or specific body language. This flexibility means that offenders can be more easily identified, making a successful conviction more likely.
In addition, the audio recording not only records what is said by the member of the public, but also what the officer says. This helps to eliminate one word against the other disputes and also false complaints against officers and their conduct. It also brings continuity to a situation, if someone moves out of shot, the audio continues to record and maintains the sequence of events.
Body worn video has been proven to change the behaviour of the public toward officers to a significant extent, helping to calm potentially aggressive confrontations and reducing incidents of violence. Not all stations have CCTV in place, and even where there are fixed cameras, the team have the flexibility to move through the station and get on and off trains knowing there are no gaps in the coverage they can achieve.
VideoBadge has also proven to be a useful tool in other operational ways, particularly in the production of reports to the board. Video and images from the device illustrate a scene far more effectively than a written description.
An example of this is when dealing with crowds attending large sporting events. Footage of how crowd management procedures are carried out help board members understand exactly what is involved and can sometimes help to identify training opportunities for staff.
Martyn Guiver added, “VideoBadge helps us deter criminal behaviour on our rail network, improves the quality of the service we provide to the public and offers operational benefits beyond evidence capture."
Andy Burke Business Development Manager for Edesix said, “Martyn Guiver and Northern Rail are well known in the industry for their innovative approach to tackling crime on the rail network and we are delighted to be a part of helping to achieve these results.”