Employees & Retail Safety: Insights from the BRC Crime Survey 2024

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Retail crime and specifically anti-social behaviour, violence and aggression have been rising steeply, not just in the UK, but also around the world.  February’s Crime Survey 2024, published by The British Retail Consortium (BRC), highlights the very real and frightening statistics of the violence that shop floor staff are experiencing every day on Britain’s High Streets.  The trends are stark, leaving retailers in city centres, and out-of-town, frustrated and forced to invest large sums of money in order to protect their staff and their businesses.

“It is not just an issue of scale; retailers tell me how the nature of these thefts has changed. Thieves have become bolder and more aggressive, and the impact on retail workers is severe, extending far beyond the workplace, affecting their physical and emotional well-being.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of BRC

Employee Safety at Risk on the High Street

Retailers are reliant on their shop floor staff and employee turnover comes at a huge cost to a business.   Figures from the BRC indicate that the average staff turnover rate across the industry is more than 50% with many people leaving before they have clocked up a year in the job. 

During the 22/23 survey period, retailers logged 475,000 incidents of abuse of which there were 1300+ violent incidents a day (up 870 from the previous year) with 8800 resulting in injury.  It must come as no surprise then, that a Retail Trust survey showed that two in five retail workers say they experience regular verbal or physical abuse and nearly half say they feel unsafe at work.

Strategies to Improve Employee Safety

87% of retailers have placed violence as one of their top three threats for the next two years well ahead of customer theft and online fraud.  While the Government has announced its Retail Crime Action Plan, it will be a while before any changes to government policy or crime bills drive improvements on the High Street.  In the meantime, it’s down to retailers to implement strategies on the front line which include:

1. Technology

In response to the rise in retail crime and violence, over 22/23 retailers have invested over £1.2 billion in crime prevention measures, such as CCTV and bodycams, up from £720 million the previous year.  In particular, there has been a demonstrable increase in the use of bodycams.  

As a face-to-face tool (rather than an out-of-sight CCTV camera), bodycams can serve as a deterrent, reducing aggression in some (definitely not all) circumstances.  They can also help in the identification and prosecution of offenders.  However, to be effective and ethical, individuals need to be trained to use bodycams so that the footage is filmed according to legal frameworks.

2. Training to Empower Employees & Improve Wellbeing

The BRC report highlights how the increase in violent retail crime is not only a cost issue, it is also about the impact on staff mental and physical wellbeing.  As a security training organisation, Top 2 Percent believes that you can increase resilience of staff and their effectiveness in their roles by teaching them the skills to de-escalate situations, typically taught to Police, Transport or Security organisations. 

“We draw from a lifetime’s experience in the Police and Security Services but also the framework we teach for CSAS (Community Safety Accreditation Scheme),” explains Managing Director, Colum Price.

“Not knowing how to deal with a conflict situation is stressful and increases risk for yourself and others. The fear of this is debilitating for an individual’s mental wellbeing and also negatively affects how they do their job.  We teach teams how to respond while maintaining safety for themselves and others but also how to manage the situation within the law.”

3. Promoting a Culture of Safety

Talking about concerns, reveals solutions and provides support.  For any store feeling the impacts of the trend towards aggression and theft, promoting a culture of safety within your team is vital for staff retention and reducing the problem.  Open communication helps raise specific concerns and enables your staff to get support, it may also reveal solutions and improve how and how fast you report incidents to the Police. Even better, collaboration between retailers will also serve to help each other and support an over-stretched Police Service.

Top 2 Percent is a specialist operations and security training provider.  To find out more about how we can help organisations with customer-facing employees, email us here. 

To download the full BRC Crime Survey 2024, click here.



The British Retail Consortium

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