National Highways

Traffic officer Chris Freeth, wearing one of the new body-worn cameras

Body-worn cameras have been issued to National Highways traffic staff following hundreds of incidents of assault and abuse against them, including an HGV driver using his vehicle to intimidate an officer.

It said there had been 214 recorded incidents between January 2020 and 2021, despite the impact of Covid lockdowns on traffic numbers.

A national rollout of the cameras began last year at a cost of £500,000 and was completed in February.

National Highways said studies showed the presence of a camera can reduce the potential for confrontation and also provided evidence, if required.

Traffic officers patrol motorways and some major A roads and are often first on the scene if there’s an incident and help reopen routes after obstructions and spills have been cleared.

But National Highways said that despite their primary role being to help, intimidation against officers was becoming an increasing problem, with incidents ranging from abuse being shouted from a vehicle, foul language, objects being thrown, targeted threats and physical attacks.

Footage has now been released of two situations captured by the new body cameras, including an incident in which a lorry driver uses his vehicle to drive at an officer.

The HGV driver later apologises for taking out his frustration on him.

Mel Clarke, National Highways customer service director, said: “The cameras have been provided to help protect our traffic officers and will be part of their uniform.

“Like a seat-belt, we hope the camera isn’t needed, but it will be there if necessary.

“Our traffic officers should not have to face abuse or even threats while simply doing their job – which is to help people and keep our roads moving.

“We want to reassure them, and warn anyone who thinks such abuse is acceptable, that we will do all we can to support our traffic officers and vigorously pursue justice for any criminal activities directed towards them.”