Housing workers given tracking devices

LONE workers in charge of council housing at a Colchester company have been issued with tracking devices to ensure their personal safety.

Annie Davidson

LONE workers in charge of council housing at a Colchester company have been issued with tracking devices to ensure their personal safety.

Colchester Borough Homes has signed a pioneering two-year deal with the personal safety firm Buddi which will see 41 of the devices being given to staff who work alone or are considered particularly vulnerable. It will mean their locations can be pin-pointed at any time.

Using Global Positioning System (GPS) and GSM mobile phone technology staff in a call centre can instantly look up the Buddi's position within a 15-foot radius or respond if a panic button is pressed.

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Steven McNally, director for Colchester Borough Homes, said the Buddi would be used alongside other systems to ensure maximum safety for staff.

He said: “Fortunately there has never been anything with a significant amount of violence towards our staff but there is always the potential.

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“We have had a number of incidents where people have felt threatened however and knowing they can press it (the panic button) and know that someone will be aware you are concerned can make people feel a little bit safer.”

Mr McNally added: “It is not just about risk, but also about the practicalities of working by yourself - if you have an accident you need a way to get assistance.”

The current Buddi has the tracking device and panic button but a newer version will be given to Colchester Borough Homes in 11 months.

The updated Buddi has a tracker and a button which opens a one-way line into the call centre so staff there could listen to what was happening to the worker and if necessary alert their manager or emergency services.

Housing officers who managed council housing in Colchester and those in charge of individual sheltered housing for the elderly will be issued with the Buddis.

Colchester Borough Homes was set up and is owned by Colchester Borough Council to manage its stock of around 7,400 council houses.

Buddi was created by London mother Sara Murray who came up with the idea after two instances when she was concerned for the safety of her daughter.

Miss Murray said the device, which is also available in a version for pets, was being ordered by companies but also individuals for their children, or vulnerable adults such as people with Alzheimer's disease or narcolepsy, a sleep disorder when sufferers can fall asleep with no warning.

Managers at Colchester Borough Homes have already started using the Buddis and the remainder will be issued to staff within the next few weeks.

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