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Protecting Shop Workers from Violence & Abuse with Body Cameras

Protecting Shop Workers from Violence & Abuse with Body Cameras

Shop workers bear the brunt of abuse by angry customers and shoplifters, with one in ten physically assaulted as they work behind counters and tills. In the last year alone, 44% of shop assistants have been verbally abused, with 1 in 4 being threatened as they go about their work. 

John Hannett, USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) general secretary, said “The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. Many UK workers are on the frontline of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault. Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them..."

Almost a third of these workers do not report incidents to the authorities as they feel that offenders will not be dealt or prosecuted with accordingly by police. No member of staff should have to deal with abusive, aggressive or violent behavior from members of the public, at work or anywhere else for that matter.


Reducing and Deterring Abuse and Violence Towards Shop Workers with Body Cameras

By providing shop workers with body cameras, sufficient and reliable footage can be captured to be used as evidence to aid in the prosecution of criminals who abuse storefront staff. Body cameras have proven time and time again to fill in the gaps where CCTV systems fall short. Criminals can monitor the position of fixec CCTV cameras and ct accordingly to obscure their appearance and actions, making it harder to identify offenders. 

With the ability to capture events as they occur in high quality with built-in authentication features such as date/time stamping and GPS tagging, workers can report incidents to the authorities with confidence that their personal liability is protected. 

Body cameras not only allow store front workers to capture events as they unfold, in the event that any footage is required as evidence towards a prosecution, but also deter violent, abusive and antisocial behavior from happening in the first place. 

The 'Observer Effect', with regards to body-worn video footage, demonstrates how individuals will modify their behavior when they know they are being recorded. The presence of body cameras can help to reduce abuse towards shop workers, as would-be offenders will know that their actions are being recorded. 

Walmart’s U.K. supermarket chain Asda began outfitting security guards with body cameras last year in an effort to protect them from abuse and attack from the public.

“There’s no doubt that body-worn cameras do have a deterrent effect, and we are very supportive of such measures aimed at reducing violence, threats and abuse at work,” says Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.


The Body Camera Scenario

The important thing to remember when implementing a body-worn video solution, not only in retail but industries across the board, is that relevance is key. That basically means that individuals should only commence recording when it will be relevant to reporting a crime/incident. Most individuals entering the area will not want to be filmed and will see this as a breach of their privacy. 

Many body cameras come with a pre and post record buffer which automatically captures around 30 seconds of footage prior to the camera being physically switched on, and 30 seconds after the camera hs been switched off.

This 30 seconds not only allows you to capture events that may have been missed but also will provide context to the situation when it comes under review. This footage can help to justify why the camera was turned on in the first place (as the individual in question might have already modified their behaviour in the knowledge that the camera was switched on). 

Once footage has been captured, the next question to ask is where will this data be stored? Who should have access to the footage on the device? How can I stop unauthorised personnel from accessing, tampering and deleting footage?

A body-worn camera system is rarely of any use when the individuals in question are at risk of having the recording devices stolen from their person. Many body cameras are PIN locked and encrypted, to prevent unauthorised access. Our body camera management software also allows administrators to issue user-based permissions, meaning that only select personnel re able to access the footage on the device itself. For example:

  • The administrator can access all footage from all devices
  • Storefront workers can commence and stop recording, but cannot access footage stored on the device

A role-based permission protocol eliminates the risk of footage being tampered with. Not only will your organisation be able to protect footage on the body cameras, but the evidence stands more chance of aiding in a successful prosecution when the correct procedures are adhered to.

When considering the protection of your frontline workers with a body camera solution, it is always best to seek expert advice. are able to supply and support our range of solutions through our industry partners and wider network. Feel free to contact our team today on 0121 456 7800 to learn more about our entire range of products and services. 


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