Posted: Fri 11th Nov 2022

Recycling centre staff in Flintshire to wear body cameras due to violent threats

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Nov 11th, 2022

Flintshire household recycling centre staff are to wear body worn cameras due to the violent threats and abuse they have been receiving.

The council’s Environment, Economy and Overview Scrutiny committee meets on Tuesday to discuss a review of vehicle permit criteria for its recycling centres.

As it bids to achieve 70 per centre recycling by 2024-25, the council has recently sought to make it clearer to service users what types and sizes of vehicles should or should not be issued a permit, and to ensure traders did not take advantage of the system.

After complaints, some criteria looks set to be tweaked and safety measures are also being introduced to protect staff who have faced threats and abuse.

A review produced by the council’s Chief Officer for Streetscene and Transportation says it has been highlighted by HRC (Household Recycling Centre) staff that the existing system in place “unintentionally allowed traders and commercial businesses to exploit the system and bring in trade waste streams, which we are not permitted to accept”.

The report states “When questioned or challenged by our staff, some of these customers became abusive and violent leading to unpleasant working environments.

“It was proposed that some flexibility be allowed for those vehicles that are registered to a business to be allowed access to deliver waste if it is clear that the waste has not been produced by that company or emanates from the activities of that business.

“For example – allow a vehicle registered to a plumber to dispose of household garden waste.”

The report adds: “The vehicle permit scheme can be a very emotive topic and any changes can result in negative feedback from service users.

“A clear communications plan will be developed to control the distribution of any revisions to policy, including improved on-site signage. If revisions to policy are adopted, previously refused applications and appeals will be reassessed for eligibility against the new scheme criteria.

“The level of abuse and threats of violence to HRC staff has been highlighted previously and raised as an ongoing concern for some time. The site staff will soon be presented with new body worn CCTV cameras to wear for recording and reporting any incidents.”

Another of the changes the council may make going forward is introducing longer opening hours to give residents more opportunity to visit the recycling centres.

The report adds: “Currently, all five HRCs open between the hours of 9am and 5pm seven days a week.

“It has been acknowledged that these opening times can be quite restrictive, especially for those residents who work during these hours.

“Members were generally supportive of extending opening times to allow for more opportunity for residents to attend site at more convenient times.”

Alternative opening hours from 8am-5.30pm are being considered subject to consultation with the trade unions and workforce. The report states the decision to move to a revised shift pattern and a longer working day will need to be reviewed in light of existing and future budgets and resources.

The Environment, Economy and Overview Scrutiny committee meets on Tuesday (November 15) to discuss the issues and decide on supporting the proposed amendments.

By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter

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