SCOTTISH Borders Council may be about to issue body cameras to staff at risk of assault and abuse from members of the public.

Five members of council staff are assaulted every week in the Borders and following a trial last year the body cameras could be rolled out to protect vulnerable staff.

A rise in incidents against recycling centre staff in 2017 could see depot operators amongst the first to wear the cameras on a daily basis.

The figures detailing assaults on council staff make grim reading and doesn’t include just physical violence but verbal threats, intimidation and spitting as well as dozens of assaults with items which were not designed as weapons.

Details released by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) last year show that additional needs assistants in schools are most likely to be assaulted with 124 incidents recorded and further incidents towards non-teaching staff including recycling centre staff, dinner ladies, janitors, social and outreach workers as well as nursery practitioners.

Dozens of assaults were carried out using objects that were not designed to be used as weapons and others involved verbal abuse and intimidation as well as spitting.

Commenting on the possibility that recycling centre workers could be issued with body cameras, a council spokesperson said: “While the vast majority of the public who attend community recycling centres in the Borders are polite and appreciative of the help provided by our site attendants, there was a rise in 2017 in the number of incidents whereby staff had been verbally and physically assaulted.

In 2016 only three members of recycling centre staff were subject to abusive behaviour but this rose to 7 in the first 9 months of 2017.

The spokesperson added: “The council’s waste management team also believe there have also been a number of unreported incidents and are working with staff to ensure they report such incidents.”

It is understood that staff at the Transport Interchange in Galashiels are also being considered for body cameras.

This follows an incident last year when an 18 year old Walkerburn man assaulted a member of interchange staff by repeatedly punching and kicking him on the body, he also pleaded guilty to challenging staff to fight, making offensive and sexualised comments towards a female police officer and grabbing a female police officer’s buttocks at Hawick police station.

A further incident saw a social worker quit her SBC job “immediately” after being subjected to vile and traumatic abuse which saw a 41-year-old Selkirk man, jailed for 180 days.

Speaking to the Border Telegraph this week, Hawick councillor and former top Borders cop, Watson McAteer said he supports and measures which protect council staff from physical aggression and threats of violence.

He added: “There must be zero tolerance for those who believe council staff are legitimate targets for attack either physical or verbal and I welcome the steps being taken by the council to protect staff.

“Providing at risk staff with body mounted cameras will act as a deterrent to stop criminal behaviour and will provide quality evidence to support any subsequent police investigations.”

And Mr McAteer said he was socked at the number of assaults to local authority staff: “It is quite appalling that public servants are being targeted in this way and I hope that complaints are robustly investigated and offenders brought to justice.”