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Christmas is coming, are you prepared to fight crime?

Almas Team
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The most recent report on retail crime from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), has highlighted that violence towards employees remains a pressing issue in the sector. Since 2018 there has been an increase in 28% in the total cost of crime, coming in now at £6 million. Every day 115 employees are attacked at their place of work. Incidents are becoming more severe too, with weapons like knives posing a more significant threat than before.

Christmas, and the increase in retail activity which goes with it, is upon us. If you run a retail business, are you prepared to tackle an increase in crime over the next few months?

Crime is on the up

The most recent report on retail crime from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), has highlighted that violence towards employees remains a pressing issue in the sector. Since 2018 there has been an increase in 28% in the total cost of crime, coming in now at £6 million. Every day 115 employees are attacked at their place of work. Incidents are becoming more severe too, with weapons like knives posing a more significant threat than before.

Preventing crime remains a major concern for all types of retailers. Crimes are not victimless. The impact the skilled, passionate, determined people who make the retail industry so vibrant. The total spend on crime prevention is up again to over £1.9 billion. Understanding threats and ways in which they can be countered is the place we need to start.

Types of crime

Theft remains the most common type of crime, costing the sector £663 million (an increase of 32% since 2018). Theft is most commonly carried out by members of the public and the most common items stolen include groceries, clothing, cosmetics, alcohol, parts or components, and electricals.  But this is probably not the whole picture, and the BRC reports that they still believe that there is a significant amount of crime which goes unrecorded. These numbers also do not reflect the indirect cost of retail crime, such as additional staff time or investment in profit protection, or the opportunity cost, such as how investment could make retailers more efficient.

The 2018 Commercial Victimisation Survey – an annual survey of crime within wholesale and retail businesses – shows that theft by customers remains the most common crime, with 19,300 incidents per 1000 businesses. Theft by customer is almost 7 times higher than theft by other persons. As shown by previous surveys, larger businesses (those with 50 employees +) experienced around twenty-three times as many crimes on average as those with 1-9 employees and twice as many crimes as those with 10-49 employees.

Retail staff continue to suffer unacceptable levels of violence and abuse, and sadly the use of weapons appears to be increasing. 42,000 violent incidents were recorded in this year’s survey. Even when no physical violence has taken place, those involved in an incident suffer emotional harm, the costs of which can be incredibly difficult to calculate. Two anonymous case studies featured in this years BRC report make for frightening reading and highlight how big an issue violence towards retail staff is.

The financial costs of robbery, burglary and vandalism have risen since 2018 (Robbery £15m, 173% increase; Burglary £115m, 11% increase ; and Criminal Damage £3.4m, 6% increase), and these types of crime remain an issue.

Health and Safety

Protection of assets comprises only one part of any security solution. Just as important are health and safety concerns. Consider, for example, the 6 million lone workers in the UK. With the introduction of the new sentencing guidelines last year, the potential cost of one incident involving a worker has risen substantially. A large firm found guilty of corporate manslaughter could face a penalty upwards of 7.5 million.

It is also worth considering the huge burden of personal injury claims, which doubled between 2010 and 2015. The biggest three claims against retailers are for slips and trips, injuries from manual handling – particularly for retailers with major distribution networks – and injuries from faulty and defective products. It may be more sensible to treat the prevention and mitigation of crime and health and safety, as business-critical functions like IT or sales.

These figures suggest that there is a real necessity for high-quality, affordable and easy-to-use crime-prevention and theft-prevention solutions and that the demand for these is likely to increase. There is a misconception, therefore, that crime will only affect customer-facing businesses present on the high street.

Factors to consider in security solutions

The diverse nature of the retail sector means that security solutions need to be diverse too. Every kind of retail business, from corner shops to large department stores, needs practical, easy-to-use and affordable solutions. As security solutions are now so sophisticated, there is no need to rely on locked doors, key fobs, passwords or access cards.

The CCTV, biometric and access control market is now highly developed, and when these solutions are used together they create an integrated security solution that works. Many businesses, however, often don’t know what they can achieve and will make decisions about investment based purely on price. This unwillingness to spend more on crime prevention is likely to be because security focuses on intangibles and has difficulty in showing the value it can bring to a company.

It is sad but true that many of us don’t think our business will become a victim of crime, yet the financial and emotional cost of robbery, burglary, vandalism and theft can come as a huge shock. If you are burgled, for example, it’s not just the cost of replacing equipment or stock, but the knock-on effects the event can have on staff morale and well-being, insurance premiums and repairing damage to your premises.

Beating crime: effective security solutions

Physical Security

The most obvious way to protect your business is to invest in some form of physical security such as bars, gates grills, shatterproof glass etc., You could also choose to protect your stock by using electronic tagging, merchandise alarms and signs to deter shoplifting. However, physical security does not deter some people from committing theft, and it could be argued that to work well these systems need to be integrated into a bigger security package.

CCTV, alarm systems and SmokeCloak

The next most obvious way to protect your business is to install a CCTV system which is motion-activated, along with motion activated or timed lights. Many CCTV systems are accessible remotely via phone apps, meaning that you can stay on top of any potential threats to your business quickly. CCTV can allow you to recognise licence plates, control cash desks, track stolen objects, identify people and detect when vandalism is occurring.

Using clear signage is a requirement of GDPR regulations, but also signals to a potential intruder that they are being watched – this makes you a much less appealing target. Combining CCTV with a panic button and monitoring, gives your staff confidence that should they be threatened, the alarm will be acknowledge swiftly and help will be on its way. A SmokeCloke device (a fog generator) can also be very useful.

Biometric Access Control Systems

A biometric access control system can replace the need for keys, fobs or pin codes. These systems range from simple single-entry fingerprint readers through to more complex multipoint entry systems. With a biometric fingerprint reader, you decide who has access to your business premises; unauthorised people cannot gain access. Biometric fingerprint readers are widely accepted as being one of the most secure forms of biometric control. With the addition of a bolt-on package, many systems can be used to track time and attendance as well, so employee management becomes easier and less time-consuming. Tracking time and attendance is a good deterrent to internal crime.

Take action now to prevent Christmas crime

Don’t let your business become a victim of crime over the Christmas period. Protect your staff, your assets and your premises now and into 2020. Our friendly sales team are here now and ready to talk to you! We are able to provide integrated systems to any type of wholesale or retail business. You can arrange your free, no obligation security survey by calling us on 0333 567 6677 (UK) or 01 68 333 68 (Ireland) If you prefer, you can always send a confidential email via [email protected].

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