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Crimes Against Business - Safeguarding the Retail Sector

19 November 2015
 November 19, 2015

Figures released in the 2015 British Crime Survey include some alarming statistics based on Commercial Victimisation. According to the findings, the wholesale and retail sector is one of the worst hit, with an estimated 4,123,000 crimes against businesses within a 365 day period; equating to 41% of all retail organisations within the sector.

This poses the question as to whether our retail staff are safe when performing their everyday tasks? What protection, if any, is put in place to protect their wellbeing? Can it be argued whether it is safe for them to be on a shop floor, opening up, locking up and carrying cash alone?

According to a 2015 report published by USDAW (Union of Shop Distributive, and Allied Workers) over half of shop workers were verbally abused in the last year, with more than 10% on a weekly or daily basis. John Hannett, USDAW General Secretary states: “All too often shop workers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job. There is the additional concern of Black Friday in November.”

An earlier USDAW report which surveyed around 5,000 UK retail staff found that 33% were threatened by customers and 241 workers were assaulted every day.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) backed these figures up with results from their own Retail Crime Survey and suggested that the impact of theft on UK retailers has reached its highest level in a decade.

Just one recent example of the vast number of serious attacks that occur daily, took place in a North Tyneside ‘Drinks Express’ store. The shop worker was attacked with a knife by a male customer that he had challenged for suspicious behaviour, resulting in lacerations to his face. To add to the point John Hannett touched upon, additional concern surrounds November’s Black Friday. In 2014, there were many attacks on retail premises, including violent attacks on staff members. 28 year old Michael Dowd from Greater Manchester pleaded guilty in court after physically assaulting a member of staff in a Tesco store and threatening another.

With such shockingly high statistics, it is clear that robust measures need to be implemented to protect businesses and their assets, their greatest being their workforce. With retail crime not limited to the shop floor, including vulnerable staff opening and closing the premises and transporting the day’s takings, more needs to be done to protect individuals before and after opening hours. Skyguard’s personal safety service operates on a 24 hour basis and the keyfob-sized alarms are designed to be worn by lone workers on their person. As they are not limited to the till point like everyday panic alarms, the devices provide a convenient method of calling for help in any emergency situation. Skyguard’s alarms act as additional protection for retail workers in an industry that is victim to noticeably high rates of crime.