UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay is set to give the go-ahead to an initiative that would see healthcare workers wear body-cameras while on duty in a move designed to counter alarming rape and sexual assault statistics in hospitals, The Telegraph reported on Monday.
Barclay is “clear that sexual violence or misconduct of any kind is unacceptable and has no place in the NHS (National Health Service),” the Telegraph quoted an unnamed government source as saying on Monday. The government is “determined to work closely with the NHS to root out this vile behavior,” the source added.
The measure looks set to be given the green light after the release of a report last week finding that there have been at least 6,500 recorded instances of rape or sexual assault in UK hospitals since 2019. Just 256 of these, or 4%, resulted in a formal charge or summons.
Heather Binning, the founder of the Women’s Rights Network (WRN) said on Monday that the data was “truly appalling” and showed that the UK’s hospitals have become “almost a market for sexual offenders” and that “the figures show that hospitals are just not safe places.”
It is anticipated that information recorded on body-cameras could help increase prosecution rates and act as a potential deterrent to future offenders.
The use of body-cameras was trialed in an Oxford hospital, with the Telegraph reporting that it was well-received by staff. Unions are also understood to be largely behind the idea, in spite of privacy concerns.
“Preventing these attacks from occurring in the first place is a priority,” said Kate Davies, the NHS director of sexual assault services commissioning.
Additional measures set to be introduced include the implementation of a violence prevention data hub and AI analysis of assault trends that may help indicate situations in which hospital staff might be at risk.