Leader: ‘We hope bodycams will be supported by everyone’

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EQUIPPING shopkeepers with body cams to combat against race hate crime seems like an extreme measure.

But if that is what it takes to stamp out the unacceptable abuse that some are forced to endure, then we fully support the police initiative.

We have to put it in perspective, and the police have had some success in reducing the number of race hate crimes in the city at a time of nationwide tensions.

But one incident is still too many. For anyone to be unable to work without being in constant fear of who might come through the door next is an embarrassment for Edinburgh.

These cameras are a reasonably cheap deterrent and, if they work, may well lead to an increase in convictions and a decrease in 
incidents.

They will give staff who may have suffered a harrowing ordeal an extra layer of reassurance and protection. And they will provide vital evidence to take cases to court which may in the past have been dropped due to lack of evidence.

At the same time, their use – and ultimate value – will clearly have to be carefully monitored.

Such measures will inevitably raise creeping Big Brother concerns among some in a city which already has more CCTV cameras than many other parts of the UK.

These concerns have to be carefully balanced with the right of shop staff to a workplace free from intimidation and abuse.

If new technology can be shown to be effective in tackling a depressing age-old issue then we hope it will be supported by everyone.

We will certainly be watching the progress of the initiative and reviewing the results with interest.

Hopefully, that will not mean footage of hard-working shopkeepers being abused for no other reason than the colour of their skin.

The best result for these cameras after all would be if they never had to be switched on.