Retailers have a duty of care to protect under-threat staff whose mental health is at risk.
Shocking new figures show that attacks on retail workers in the UK are on the rise, with over 42,000 violent incidents recorded in the last year. These attacks are costing retailers a staggering £900 million, and placing the mental health of workers and customers at severe risk.
The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey states that the biggest concern for retailers, and their threatened employees, is the increased willingness for career criminals to use violence and brandish weapons when confronted over theft. The BRC say around 115 workers in the UK faced threats or assaults every day, with the four main scenarios that lead to violent interactions being: shoplifting; enforcing age-restrictions on the sale of goods, hate-crime related incidents and armed and unarmed robberies.
Duty of care
Due to this ever increasing threat retailers are now under more pressure than ever to protect staff, both physically and mentally. As a result of attacks, and the daily threat of potential violence, shop workers are experiencing severe mental health problems. In a report carried out by the University of London, it was found that a rise in violent retail crime is causing "long-lasting anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder" among workers in the sector. This has led experts to call for ‘urgent’ help to protect retail staff, saying they have a duty of care to do everything they can to make sure workers feel safe, secure and valued in their workplace.
In a bid to combat this problem many large retailers are looking at new ways to help staff feel more protected and secure. Asda recently announced that it is utilising Edesix Body Worn Cameras to enhance in-store security, and more large retailers are set to follow suit in the very near future. The increased threat of violence on a daily basis is forcing all retailers to re-think security policies, as quite literally lives are at risk if retail staff are not given adequate protection. One of the most effective ways to actively deter violent and aggressive behaviour, and protect customer-facing staff, is to equip staff with VideoBadges. BWCs are proven to improve the safety of colleagues in public facing roles and shoppers within the stores, whilst producing compelling evidence when needed.
“If you are serious about security, then this equipment is for you” - Security Manager
BWCs act as a confrontation preventer, as it is proven that members of the public are far less aggressive to staff members if they know they are being filmed. Studies examining the use of BWCs show they make a real difference in protecting frontline staff and the public. Not only do they deter aggression and in many cases eliminate the need to activate a panic alarm or radio during an incident, but they also help staff feel valued, safe and more protected. The cameras also greatly speed up the handling of incidents, insurance matters and complaints. On top of all this, the cameras are utilised to highlight training requirements, evaluate protocols and improve best work practices. BWCs have been proven to help improve the safety of those in public facing roles in the event of a complaint or incident.
In order to deliver the benefits, a BWC system must be simple to deploy, easy to manage and straightforward to use with minimal training; the BWC is a tool for the user to protect themselves – but it isn’t the focus of their job, nor should it be. Also the back-office management suite needs to be secure and able to deliver court-admissible evidence packages.
Asda became one of the first major retailers in the UK to use BWCs after a successful trial, which began in 2016. Edesix collaborated with CBES, Asda’s preferred security installer, to design and install a tailored wearable CCTV deployment system perfectly suited to the retail giant’s needs. Edesix and CBES worked closely at Asda’s national security centre and across four store deployments to provide them with the knowledge and expertise so the cameras could be rolled out in the remaining stores with minimum impact on store efficiency. This system, which is intuitive to use and requires minimum training, has enabled staff to integrate the cameras into their daily working processes with minimal fuss.
Asda, along with CBES, identified the need to re-think its key security policy around challenging aggressive behaviour towards staff. In searching for a technology partner, CBES chose Edesix as their BWC provider, to deploy initially to the most affected stores. The aim was to improve the safety of colleagues in public facing roles and shoppers within the stores, whilst producing compelling evidence when needed.
There are now over 900 Edesix VideoBadges being utilised in over 250 Asda sites nationwide, with more growth expected in the near future. As a result of this partnering strategy, which relied on both the innovative nature of Edesix’s technology and communication between all parties, Asda has been able to improve colleague security, diffuse aggressive and volatile situations and reduce valued investigation time, thus reducing costs. Since the deployment, Asda has proven the viability of these cameras by securing numerous convictions relating to theft and violence against staff.
Body Worn Cameras for every situation
Many assume that BWCs only come in one size and are only for police and security guards. However, new smaller-sized Incident Recorders, such as the Edesix VideoTag, are specifically designed to meet the needs of retailers, lone workers and other public facing businesses. These smaller BWCs compliment existing security, giving companies the opportunity to have an all-in-one video and audio security solution.
CCTV is one of the most widely implemented forms of security for businesses and local authorities. Fixed security cameras connected to a VMS are a powerful tool for monitoring and securing many different environments, from retail floors to distribution centres. One of the most important recent innovations in the wearable camera market has been the ability to integrate the cameras with existing video management systems (VMS), enabling organisations to unify a site’s security and monitoring system, and create mobile and first-person viewpoints and add contextual detail to footage. New camera streaming gateway software, such as Edesix’s ONStream, integrates BWCs with existing VMS for fixed IP camera networks. This new software enables ONVIF compliant VMSs to be compatible with BWCs, streamlining the management of footage for users.