THEY are normally worn by police officers and paramedics to keep them safe from violent criminals and dangerous drunks – but now staff at Oxfordshire’s household waste and recycling centres are being equipped with body-worn cameras to keep them safe.

Oxfordshire County Council announced yesterday it was giving workers at its seven tips the high-tech holsters to protect them from the worrying amount of abuse they face.

On average each year the authority said it dealt with 20 ‘escalated’ reports of physical and verbal abuse by members of the public, but staff have to deal with even more minor incidents on a regular basis.

Under the new scheme, recycling centre workers will have a camera as part of their uniform.

If they feel threatened by a tip visitor throwing a tantrum they will be able to turn the camera on, tell the member of public they are doing so, and warn them that anything they say or do from that point onwards may be used as evidence against them.

Council cabinet member for environment Yvonne Constance said: “The safety of our staff and customers is our number one priority and using this technology will only be an enhancement.

“The vast majority of people only ever intend to bring their waste and dispose of it quickly and if they are unsure of anything they will speak to the staff.

“There have been times, and this is not unique to Oxfordshire, where someone will come along and will seek to intimidate or abuse the staff. This is not acceptable.

“We are being upfront about using the cameras and that alone will help improve many of the interactions on site. Knowing that you could be filmed could for many people be enough to make them think twice.”

The council also pointed out that any interactions filmed by the camera could be used by members of public wanting to complain about staff behaviour.

It said it would be ‘very clear’ when the cameras are recording, promised the cameras were ‘very visible’, and said signs would be displayed at all sites once the technology is rolled out - starting with Redbridge in Oxford.

Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld announced in September 2016 he would be making born-worn cameras available to frontline officers across the force for extra protection.

Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust also gave body cameras to security staff at the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Horton hospitals in 2016, but figures last year showed the number of assaults on trust staff still rose from 203 in 2015 to 215 in the following year.