Retailers in Edinburgh who have been subjected to a series of hate crimes are to be given mini body cameras by police to capture images of their attackers.

The scheme is being piloted in the north of Edinburgh, and will be rolled out to other areas if it is successful.

The video cameras, which are the size of a USB stick and can be worn on clothing, will be offered to staff who have experienced a traumatic or repeated attacks.

Shopkeepers will have to display a sign that CCTV is operating.

Inspector Mark Rennie of Police Scotland said: “We often find that store security guards and shop staff receive racist abuse when they challenge shoplifters or refuse purchases.

“It’s totally unwarranted and unacceptable, and these cameras are intended to provide reassurance to staff who have experienced such an incident, by offering a deterrent and helping to assist police collect evidence to identify offenders.

“This will increase our opportunities to arrest those responsible, take appropriate action to put them before the courts, and prevent them from being able to use the shop in the future.

“Although the devices are discreet, they are small enough to be worn on the body to ensure that vulnerable staff have access to the recording facility at all times and in areas of their premises that previously would not have been covered by their own CCTV.”

The move has been welcomed by the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Council.

Chair Foysol Choudhury said: “We welcome the initiative of Police Scotland of making small body cameras available, which will help safeguard and protect persons vulnerable to hate crimes.

“We also believe that it would make local business owners and employees confident to conduct their business as well as report instances of hate crime.

“As a lot of people are not aware of processes about reporting hate crimes, the body cameras will make them confident about garnering evidence of such crimes. We hope that this step will increase rates of reporting of hate crimes.”