Recently published retail crime surveys from the Home Office, USDAW and ACS were not light reading. Retail crime is up across the board with abuse and violence towards workers at record highs. In 2020, the trigger was most often aggressive resistance to Covid protection measures, but even as such measures were relaxed, abuse remained high.
“Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse, and with shopworkers’ almost complete lock of confidence in the ability of the system to give them the protection they need, much more needs to be done,” said Paddy Lillis, General Secretary at USDAW.
The normalisation of abuse towards retail workers must stop and the security industry has a vital role to play.
Police in this country have faced crisis after crisis, particularly London’s Metropolitan Police Force which has suffered a loss in public confidence following the Sarah Everard murder and the crackdown on the vigil held in her honour.
According to YouGov, more people in Britain now think that the police aren’t doing enough to tackle crime than those who do, while overall confidence in the police has dropped from 75% in 2020 to 53% in 2022.
This lack of confidence is reflected amongst retailers as well. The Home Office’s 2021 Commercial Victimisation Survey found that retailers were strongly divided in terms of police satisfaction, with 47% satisfied and 53% dissatisfied.
Convenience stores were even less satisfied, which is unsurprising given they also felt the brunt of the pandemic’s surge in retail crime, with 89% experiencing verbal abuse (a quarter of which was hate crime) and 25% experiencing violence. The ACS found that:
Given the overwhelming lack of faith in policing amongst retailers, it’s no surprise that one in five retail workers want more security guards on site while convenience stores spent an average of £5,239 per store on security in 2021.
As much as CCTV and alarm systems have advanced, and though we highly recommend them as a simple, cost-effective, all-hours deterrent, there is no beating a trained, uniformed security guard to prevent retail crime.
Security guards are not only trained in recognising suspicious individuals and preventing repeat offenders from entering a premises, they are also trained in conflict resolution and deescalation — vital skills to combat the increasing violence suffered by retail workers as they can defuse a tense situation before it turns aggressive.
Most importantly, a security guard offers an immediate response to criminal behaviour, something police cannot provide at the best of times unless they happen to be near the store. The best security guards can become pillars of their community and a trusted, strong presence in areas where police fall short.
While Covid and the restrictions required to prevent its spread retreat from daily life, the ongoing cost of living crisis means retail workers will continue to be on the frontlines of a society that is increasingly tense, cash-strapped and desperate. The security industry can’t solve those problems, but we can protect retailers from the violence and theft that result from them.
To discuss enhancing the security of your retail business call 0800 772 3786 now and speak to one of our specialist customer services team.
Magenta Security provide award winning security services throughout the UK. We are in the top 5% of ACS approved contractors and were the first security company in Europe to be awarded ISO 14001 for our environmental management systems.
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