Body of evidence

With the wearing of face coverings now compulsory in shops across England and Scotland, retail staff are at risk of receiving abuse when challenging non-compliant customers. Chris Allcard, lone worker services director at Reliance Protect, explains why the use of body worn cameras offers a welcome source of protection.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our lives and the retail experience is no exception. With shoppers in England and Scotland now required to wear face coverings, are shop workers expected to encourage and even enforce their use in stores – something that carries with it an increased risk of verbal and physical abuse?

Although anyone refusing to comply could be fined up to £100, it is clear that enforcement is beyond an already stretched police service. We therefore cannot expect the police to enforce the new rule, which leaves it up to retailers to take some of this responsibility.

Not only does this suggest that retail staff are under increasing danger while carrying out their duties, it should be noted that the negative publicity surrounding incidents can affect customers visiting the shop and damage the retailer brand.

Candid camera

Once considered a niche technology primarily used by the police and other emergency services, body worn cameras are increasingly popular within the retail sector. In most cases they act as a strong visual deterrent and help diffuse a potentially volatile situation.

The reason is simple – people tend to be far less aggressive if they know they are being recorded. Good working practices maximise the benefits of adopting body worn cameras. For example, posters and signage highlighting that staff are wearing such technology and staff advising potentially hostile people that they are recording a situation if it starts to escalate.

Specialist technology providers can also integrate body worn cameras into a broader security infrastructure. For example, integrating them with CCTV, access control and even manned guarding can create a solution where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. On top of all this, the video generated from body worn cameras can highlight training requirements, evaluate protocols and improve best work practices.

Investors in people

Violence at work can have devastating consequences on the physical and psychological health of those affected, and retailers can’t afford to ignore the issue. There are numerous reasons why investing in personal safety makes sense. As well as keeping them safe, it is also worth noting that morale and productivity improve when employees realise that the company they work for takes their health, safety and wellbeing seriously by investing in equipment such as body worn cameras.

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