The use of body worn video cameras on mental health wards: results and implications from a pilot study

Tom Ellis, Darren Shurmer, Sarah Badham-May, Colm Ellis-Nee

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Background: An early study of the introduction of personal issue body worn video cameras (BWVCs) (Ellis et al, 2015) of police wearing body worn cameras showed that frontline police officers were in favour of them, that complaints were reduced and some types of crime were also reduced. While some ambulance and A&E security staff have deployed BWVCs, it has, until recently, been unusual for mental health (MH) ward staff ward staff to do so. An early review article (Tully et al, 2015) and feasibility study (Hardy et al, 2017) showed that it was feasible to deploy BWVCs in mental health settings and that they were associated with: staff and patients considering them beneficial; a reduction in complaints; and a reduction in serious incidents.

Method: For this study, a camera company supplied 50 BWVCs to be worn by West London Trust (WLT) nursing staff in 7 MH wards, ranging from Voluntary Admissions to Enhanced Medium Secure wards. Pooled camera provision and training were provided for: security nurses; nurses in charge; and response nurses. Incident data for the 7 wards were collected for a 4 month period post BWVC introduction, and compared to equivalent data for the same time period in the previous year.

Results: The results indicate that the use of BWVCs was associated with a reduction in the overall seriousness of aggression and violence in reported incidents, with a marked decline in the use of tranquilising injections during restraint incidents. BWVC use was also associated with a significant reduction in the seriousness of incidents on local services admissions wards. Different ward classifications, and within that, male/female wards, show different patterns of results. These indicate that different expectations, training and evaluation/performance measurements need to be developed for different MH ward contexts.

Conclusion: We have demonstrated that it is feasible to deploy BWVCs in all types of MH ward settings, up to, and including, enhanced medium secure wards, and that their use is acceptable and beneficial to patients, MH staff and MH managers. Further evaluation and research is therefore required to establish whether these benefits also result in less injury, absence and stress for staff. In turn, these factors, plus any associated need to employ agency staff, need to be evaluated in terms of a reduction in delivery costs whilst ensuring improved service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-868
JournalMental Health in Family Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2019


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