Charity workers who patrol Dundee’s streets at night helping the hungry and homeless are reporting an increase in violent and aggressive behaviour against them.
Gareth Norman, of the Night Ministry, has told of several instances where volunteers have been subjected to aggressive behaviour. As a result, street workers are to be issued with body cameras.
Gareth said: “We take our obligations to prevent violence and safeguard our volunteers seriously, and have decided to spend our limited funds on purchasing refurbished body cameras in the hope that this will help to prevent or de-escalate any future situations.
“We find it sad that we have to instigate such measures, but must take the safety of our volunteers seriously.
“There have been a few cases where our volunteers have faced aggression while out on the streets.
“The most recent incident was at the weekend when the situation got pretty heated and the police had to be involved.
“Early on Saturday morning, a man whom we had been called to assist on Reform Street by our colleagues at Street Chaplains, after he had allegedly been robbed, became very threatening when he felt that the assistance we had provided was not to his satisfaction.
“We took him into our van to try to calm him down, but the situation escalated and the police were called.
“This was very distressing for our volunteers. They are out there at night doing a great job and should not have to deal with this type of behaviour.
“As part of our initial programme, all volunteers receive conflict resolution and personal safety training which provides skills to help resolve confrontational situations.
“Over the past months, Night Ministry management has also contacted Police Scotland and the Dundee community safety team with a view to obtaining a direct radio link to the CCTV system which our colleagues at Street Chaplains and Safe Zone bus have.
“This has a dual purpose of being easily contactable if our welfare services are required in the city and for us to report witnessed incidents.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “If a member of the Night Ministry is having difficulty with someone, which isn’t common, they usually just flag down the nearest officer and the matter gets dealt with on the spot.
“This is what they should continue to do.”