HOSPITAL security guards are now wearing police-style body cameras to capture violent attacks and aggression against staff and patients.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has invested about £7,500 in body-worn cameras for its security officers who patrol the county’s hospitals.

Guards now have the lightweight devices on their uniforms whenever they patrol trust sites.

Trust bosses hope the cameras will not only catch violent incidents on camera but act as a deterrent to patients or visitors assaulting staff or each other.

Rachel Collins, trust security manager, said the cameras will defuse incidents if patients, staff and visitors know they are being filmed.

She added: “Obviously the vast majority of people who come to the trust are doing so through need. Clearly, if we can reduce instances of violence and aggression from other people that will benefit them.”

Across the John Radcliffe, Horton General and Churchill hospitals as well as the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre there were 193 assaults on staff last year. During that same period there were 14 attacks on patients and visitors, with police called 13 times.

But a Freedom of Information request revealed that although 202 of the 207 attacks were by patients, 196 were as a result of their medical conditions.

Ms Collins stressed that while the cameras are expected to deter many people from behaving aggressively or violently, confused patients will always be very unpredictable.

She said: “A lot of the assaults are from patients who have clinical conditions so we cannot say categorically those instances will fall because of the confusion of the patient.

“But we hope to see a deterrent effect with people acting unreasonably or inappropriately.”

The officers wear the lightweight body cameras on their chests and will only switch them on when attending an incident.

But the devices will actually capture footage from a minute before they are activated, so even if officers are delayed turning them on, it will still video the incident.

Footage will be downloaded to a secure server by an authorised member of the security team, and even if a camera is lost or stolen none of the footage can be viewed on the device.

Ms Collins stressed that the data is stored in compliance with the Data Protection Act, and only held for a limited period of time.

She said the cameras will not only capture violent or aggressive incidents, but if patients or visitors complain about the behaviour of security staff the footage can be reviewed.

Ms Collins added: “The cameras will assist us in investigations and protecting our staff from false allegations when dealing with patients and visitors.

“Patients and visitors will have the reassurance that the actions of the security officers are being captured on camera as well and can be investigated more easily.”

The total number of assaults across OUH sites has dropped from a peak of 216 in 2014, with the majority of attacks taking place, 125, at the John Radcliffe Hospital.