Crime Prevention in Retail Settings – How to Reduce Incidents

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We’d have hoped that the recognition of retail workers over the last year as essential frontline staff would have gone some way to curbing the startling crime statistics in the sector.

Unfortunately, the data shows us the opposite.

The headline figures alone are shocking yet familiar – they highlight the crucial importance of putting retail security at the top of our priorities:

  • Retail workers endure 424 incidents of violence or abuse every day.
  • Crime security spending and losses amount to £2.2 billion per year.
  • Gangs are the key perpetrators, often equipped with knives.

These figures, taken from the Crime Survey 2020, illustrate the retail security crisis.

It’s clear that the time to act and protect the welfare of retail employees, security teams and business assets isn’t now – it was yesterday.

The UK Retail Security Crisis

Retail violence isn’t anything new, and it isn’t anything we haven’t heard political debate about before. 

However, the reality is that the situation isn’t improving.

While proactive proposals may walk a great walk, it feels some way before they reach our doors and make a tangible difference in reducing crime.

In the future, we may see:

  • Home Office funding specifically targeting violence in retail.
  • Increased sentences for criminals who attack shop workers serving the public.
  • Reviews of court interventions to tackle root causes, such as substance abuse.
  • Funding for the police authorities to review violence against retail colleagues.
  • Creative strategies to prioritise policing resources to tackle the issue.

For now, we’re dealing with a 9% increase year-on-year regarding in-store abuse and a 70% sector majority that reports the police response as either poor or very poor.

As with all security threats, the best safeguard for retailer managers lies in prevention.

It may be some time before political and policing measures trickle down to reach the tills, so defending retail sites NOW is imperative. 

What about when a premises is empty?

We’ve explored this exponential rise in unacceptable crime rates and the prevalence of criminal gangs targeting retail stores, however, what about stores that are empty or left vacant for a period of time. This scenario often leads to different threats such as:

  • Arson – arson attacks through open windows, letterboxes and other entry points are common for empty retail stores. 
  • Vandalism – Criminals may gain access to property forcefully, causing damage to the property itself. Once inside, vandals have free reign. 
  • Squatting – If access points aren’t secured, squatters can occupy the premises, leading to costly legal proceedings. 
  • Infestation – if waste material is left behind, this can lead to insect or vermin infestations which will require specialists teams to remove. 
  • Unauthorised entry – if the locks remain the same, keyholders can still access the site. 

Here we’ll run through some decisive safety practices for empty retail premises which go a long way towards securing your retail premises.  Several fundamental retail security measures would benefit everyone, from independent traders to large national organisations.

Risk Assessments as a Retail Security Defence

How can paperwork help guard your site from these considerable threats to retail security we’ve described?

Simple – a professional risk analysis will help you see it coming.

A risk assessment isn’t solely about insurance costs or health and safety exercises; it means you receive a comprehensive evaluation about where, how, and why your site is exposed and what you can do to remove the risk.

Key Safe Installations to Minimise Thefts

Any busy retail site will inevitably have multiple key sets in circulation. 

However, emergency access situations, lost keys, or irresponsible keyholder management can quickly lead to a business-critical loss.

Key safes are mechanical, tamper-proof boxes fitted to the exterior of your staff entrance points. 

They ensure you can gain immediate entry, but only if you have the security code.

Reducing Arson Exposure by Removing Flammable Waste 

While many of the incidents of retail violence relate to thefts of stock or cash, another problematic issue is the increase in vandalism.

Many resources are available to support retailers in guarding their premises against mindless property damage – think boarding-up during civil disturbances or security doors to prevent access to a vacant site.

Another manageable option is to remove all flammable waste.

Build-ups of mail signal that a unit is empty and unsecured, making it an accessible target for squatters, vandals, building material thieves, and arsonists.

Booking Professional Lock Changes as a Core Risk Prevention

As it’s vital to have a key management policy, lock changes are an uncomplicated, affordable, quick measure. 

They’re also something it’s all too easy to overlook when you’re focused on the ongoing tasks associated with a thriving retail enterprise.

Changing the locks takes so little time and means instantly upgrading your security.

One of the first reasons a criminal marks out a site as their next target? They spot old locks, unstable windows, or an effortless access route that make thefts possible.

Lock changes are also necessary if you’ve changed tenants. They mean that, no matter how many ex-colleagues fail to return their keys, your store won’t be a crime victim as a result. 

For more information about any of these practical and low-cost retail security solutions, we’d recommend visiting the ShopShield Retail Security page for further details.

 

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