Central England Co-op has announced it is rolling out colleague body cameras to over 50 stores following a successful trial in two Birmingham stores.
According to the retailer, the rollout is designed to keep staff safe and deter threats and acts of violence towards colleagues and security guards.
This comes as the retailer has been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the government to crack down further on those who abuse or attack shopworkers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison sentence.
“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,” loss prevention advisor Nicola Walton said.
“We are aware that any kind of crime can be frightening for store colleagues and this is why we are extending the rollout of the technology to over 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 whole 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.”
The move comes as the retailer revealed that over 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 has jumped by 31.1 per cent, with rises in verbal abuse and threats and anti-social behaviour.
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, added: “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.”