Incidents of abuse and violence towards Angus skip site staff have rocketed since the controversial introduction of body cameras earlier this year.
Since the equipment was issued in January, the rate of reported aggression has almost doubled from last year – with recorded incidents also greater in just four months than those noted the whole of 2016/17.
It has also emerged, however, that there is no record of verbal or physical attacks being reported to police in the past three years, and no prosecutions in court.
At the beginning of the year Angus councillors took the decision to equip recycling centre staff with body cameras after officials reported a worrying increase in aggression at skip sites across the area.
The rise was blamed on factors including charges for commercial dumping, changes to opening hours and new rules including a ban on trailers over six feet long at the majority of Angus sites.
Freedom of Information data has now revealed that the authority laid out £8,400 on equipping 16 staff with the cameras.
They were in use at all seven recycling centres by January 18, and in the period to May 22 there were five reports of violence and aggression.
In 2017/18 there were seven reported incidents, compared to four in 2016/17 and five the previous year.
A council spokesperson said: “These incidents were formally reported when an employee in the course, or as a consequence, of work activities was made to feel that either themselves of others were personally threatened or in danger.”
The council said it did not have a record of how many incidents were reported to police.
It also confirmed it did not have information on any reports which resulted in court action, but said it was not aware of any prosecutions in the past three years.
Forfar Conservative councillor Braden Davy said the issuing of cameras may have given staff more confidence to report attacks by angry customers.
“Nobody should have to work in an environment in which they do not feel safe, and body cameras are an important way of ensuring members of staff at our recycling centres, and members of the public, do feel secure when using our centres,” he said.
“We know of incidents targeted towards staff and body cameras help provide vital evidence in dealing with any incidents.
“They’ve also provided further evidence of whether there have been any safety breaches at our centres. Body cams can provide clarity over what happened, when, and allow procedures to be put in place to improve the safety for the public and council staff.
“There should be zero tolerance when it comes to abuse towards members of staff who are doing a job for us, the members of the public. I can fully appreciate sometimes frustration can build if there are issues, but this should never result in verbal or physical abuse.
“It is perhaps true that there is now more awareness of reporting violence or aggression towards staff, and more evidence of it, so staff feel more confident and comfortable in doing this.
“This may in part explain the increase in the number of reports recently,” he added.
“However, all of us have a duty to treat each other with respect and there should be zero tolerance towards aggressive, or violence targeted at anyone – no matter what the circumstances.”