Co-op issues body cameras to staff in 50 stores in bid to halt attacks and threats of violence

Central England Co-op is issuing body cameras to staff in more than 50 stores to help reduce crime.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 11:25 am

The retailer, which has more than 260 stores across 16 counties, trialled the use of the technology in two of its Birmingham stores.

It will be rolled out across other stores in an effort to halt threats and acts of violence towards staff and security guards.

The move comes as the retailer has been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and 200 MPs to push the Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shop workers through the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.

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Store Manager Gill Evans showcasing one of the body cameras

Nicola Walton, Loss Prevention Adviser, said: “Our body camera trial was a great success. It allowed our colleagues to feel safer while serving their communities and played its part as another deterrent to prevent crimes before they take place.

“We are aware that any kind of crime can be frightening for store colleagues and this is why we are extended the rollout of the technology to more than 50 stores across our trading estate.

“Over the past few years we have invested heavily in a range of measures to keep our colleagues and customers safe ranging from centrally monitored CCTV systems that can be activated at the touch of a button to increased numbers of security guards – today’s news is just another way we can continue to invest in keeping people safe at work and while they shop.

“This will provide us with another tool in our efforts to have a zero tolerance approach to any type of crime towards our colleagues and customers. We now ask shoppers to work with us to make sure that nobody has to face abuse in their place of work.”

Recent figures from the retailer showed that 10,000 incidents have been reported so far this year including 72 assaults, 879 cases of verbal abuse and threats, 272 anti-social behaviour reports and 159 direct incidents related to Covid-19.

This means, compared to last year, the total number of incidents have jumped by 31.1%, with rises in verbal abuse and threats and anti-social behaviour, the Co-op said.

Incidents have included colleagues being punched in the face by shoplifters and attempted thefts using needles and knives.

Other recent innovations aimed at driving down crime include the expansion of centrally monitored CCTV to more stores, the further use of tracking devices in high risk products, the rollout of specialist software and technology to protect lone workers and new training packages and toolkits to ensure colleagues have all the information and skills they need to keep safe.

Store Manager Gill Evans, who helped trial the body cams in store, said: “We were so pleased to be part of the trial and to find out more stores will be getting this vital technology.

“Colleagues should not face any kind of abuse and these cameras act as another great deterrent to try and put people off.

“However, if people still want to abuse or threaten our colleagues they provide great evidence for our work with the police in ensuring they face justice.”