Co-op introduces body cameras for shop workers

Representational image of a body camera (Photo: iStock)

Co-op said it is rolling out body-worn cameras to shop workers as part of the measures to increase safety in-store.

The consumer co-operative, a leading voice in the fight against the rising retail crime, has committed to invest £70 million over the next three years in technology solutions to keep the staff safer.

The new body cameras, part of this investment, will be deployed initially in around 250 stores.

“Shop workers play an essential role serving communities, yet they have to contend with unprecedented levels of violence and abuse on a daily basis,” commented Cheryl Houghton, Co-op retail security manager.

“I have never seen such high levels of violence and abuse, it’s a societal issue that all retailers are concerned about and it’s having lasting effects on the lives of shop workers – both mentally and physically.”

The VT100 body-worn camera from Motorola Solutions will have the ability to activate real-time audio and visual which is remotely monitored by the security operations centre of Co-op security partner, Mitie. Footage will be used to identify criminals and provide evidence to secure prosecution.

The cameras can be worn in standby mode for up to six months, preserving battery for instances when the shop staff feel threatened by aggressive or violent behaviour. They are operated by a simple one-push activation, instantly recording footage to the camera itself, and streaming live video to the security operations centre, allowing for a quick response from security personnel or police.

The Co-op said it has seen store crime jump by more than 140 per cent year-on-year, with the number of violent incidents hitting record levels with 1,350 attacks in the first six months of 2020.

The retailer is a major supporter of MP Alex Norris’ ‘Assault on Shop Workers Bill’ which seeks to guarantee greater protection for shop workers who have responsibilities to uphold the law on age restricted products.

“It is not part of the job to be verbally abused, threatened or attacked and we’re determined to make sure it isn’t, calling for greater protection for shop workers carrying out public duties, and for the root causes of crime in communities to be addressed,” Houghton said.