PARAMEDICS in Dorset are taking part in a three-month trial of body cameras to protect them from attacks and abuse.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has agreed the trial, which will initially include paramedics working in urban areas.

However, if the scheme proves a success, body cameras may be rolled out across the county.

SWASFT chief executive Ken Wenman said: “Like all our emergency services colleagues, our crews and control staff work in extremely difficult circumstances.

“They are often under threat of attack or abuse, and staff members are assaulted every day. That is totally unacceptable.”

Last year a 45-year-old man was made the subject of a criminal behaviour order after repeatedly attacking paramedics and hospital staff while in their care.

He once flicked blood at a paramedic who tried to help him.

Mr Wenman said: “We want to take every possible measure to ensure our employees are safe at work.

“Using body worn video cameras will discourage people from abusing and assaulting our staff. They will also enable us to provide evidence of abuse or assaults when they do happen so the police can bring more prosecutions against people who assault our staff.”

SWASFT figures show, between August 2018 and August 2019, there were 1,285 recorded incidents of violent or aggressive behaviour directed against members of their staff.

This represents an increase of 24 per cent from the previous year.

Body cameras were pledged to paramedics in 2018 ahead of the NHS’s 70th birthday.

Under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, anyone found guilty of attacking an emergency services worker could face a maximum 12 months in prison.

Two year prison sentences are available for more serious instances of assault.

The Dorset paramedic body camera trial starts on Tuesday, October 1.