The holiday shopping season is almost upon us. It’s the time of year were shopper footfall is at its highest with shoppers getting ready for Christmas and the dreaded Black Friday sales approach.
Over the years we’ve seen various viral videos released of people fighting over the last half price LCD TV or racing through stores to get the best items on this year's wish list. But this time of year highlights some of the issues we see all year round. Crime in Retail.
The British Retail Consortium released in its latest report which indicated that Retail Crime is on the rise. The total cost of crime and crime prevention in Retail was £1.9bn in 2018. Theft is also up by 31% reaching £700 million but most concerning of all is the 42,000 assaults or threats against staff in 2018.
That’s a rise from 524 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2017 to a shocking 1,433 in 2018. The BRC’s survey revealed that 115 retail employees were attacked at work everyday.
As a leading provider of security services to the retail sector these figures aren’t too surprising. There may be socio-economic reasons for this rise but we won’t get into that here. Instead we’ll focus on what we can do to prevent incidents like these from arising in the first place.
Training, Training, Training. In our experience this is the most important factor when it comes to preventing assaults and threats in a retail environment. Teaching officers the best ways to approach situations from body language to tone of voice and disarming phrases has significantly reduced assaults across our contracts.
We run specific training courses based on conflict management giving our officers the tools to become mediators instead of your traditional enforcer.
Currently we’re investing in new ways of training our officers. We’ve begun production on a large number of video training courses complete with quiz style questions to properly engage our officers when training. We already have specific videos on managing assaults, theft and anti-social behaviour.
Mobile Elite Officers
Often our officers will be assigned to secure stores alone. This is reasonable as most small stores only require one officer but in recent times we have seen organised criminals enter stores and try to distract guards whilst accomplices attempt to shoplift. Or sometimes criminals will swamp a store together completely outnumbering an officer. This is where Mobile Elite Officers come in.
Mobile Elite Officer will be called into action to support our officers based around cities and town centres. Armed with CCTV capability they have proven to be an effective deterrent and evidence gatherer for further investigations.
It’s true that a well trained, high performing officer can be effective when combating crime in retail but true impact happens when strong partnerships are made.
Emphasis should always be made to form as many partnerships as possible. Local alliances between neighbouring stores who share information has been shown to reduce crime. Establishing forms of communication like community radios can further reduce crime enabling stores to react to anti-social behaviour or emergencies together.
Retailers and officers should also look to the local police force for community support. Good relationships with local police officers can often lead to more effective crime preventative measures and greater cooperation.
With many aspects of the market tightening the belts of the retail sector such as Brexit, security businesses will be tested on their value and crime prevention methods. Providing direct cost savings in the form of reduced theft and reducing the amount of physical confrontations is always a strong indication that we're on the right track but we should always look to improve.
Although we can’t truly affect the causes of crime across the Retail sector, we play a significant part in its prevention.