Tesco employees handed body cameras for crime prevention

In response to an increase in violent assaults, Tesco employees will be provided with body cameras, according to the company's CEO. Since last year, the number of physical assaults at the company has increased by a third.

It parallels findings published earlier this year by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which found that harassment against retail staff had nearly doubled compared to pre-Covid levels.

Sainsbury's, Waitrose, and Co-op have already adopted equivalent measures.

According to sources, Ken Murphy, the CEO of Tesco, advocated for stricter laws against criminals.

He noted that changes had been made to make shoplifting an aggravating factor in convictions, but he wants "abuse or violence towards retail workers" to be made a crime in and of itself.

Mr Murphy called for the change to bring England and Wales in line with Scotland, where the Protection of Worker's Bill makes it an offense to assault, threaten or abuse retail employees.

He also advocated for the supermarket's right to be kept informed of the case's development.

According to Mr. Murphy, Criminal activity is a blight on society and an insult to the people who shop at and work in retail establishments. He continued by saying that it was time to put an end to it, and he referred to the violence as "heartbreaking."

Chris Philp, minister of policing, told sources that police forces should investigate every crime where CCTV footage exists, even if the stolen products are worth less than £200.

It should not be tolerated on any level. He said that he expects a zero-tolerance approach to this criminality. 

In the March release of the BRC's Crime Survey, more than 850 incidents per day were recorded in 2021/22, a significant increase from the pre-Covid level of 450 incidents per day in 2019/20.

These incidents included racial and sexual abuse, which had a huge emotional and physical impact on people, according to the report.

The trade association, which represents over 200 retailers in the United Kingdom, estimated that retail crime cost £1.76 billion in 2021/22, with £953 million lost to consumer theft and £715 million spent on prevention.

"The pandemic has normalized appalling levels of violence and abuse against retail workers," said the group's chief executive, Helen Dickinson.

In July, food retailer Co-op issued a warning that some communities could become "no-go" zones for the company due to increasing crime rates, which it claimed had increased by more than a third over the past year.

It cited a Freedom of Information Act request which suggested that many police forces did not give retail crime a high priority, with 71% of severe retail crimes going unreported.

Waitrose has stated that the increase in larceny is attributable to the proliferation of steal-to-order gangs.

The supermarket is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, which has indicated that it has supplied its workers with body cams and trained them in de-escalation techniques in response to a rise in the number of occurrences.

In 2018, the grocery store chain Sainsbury's began using body-worn cameras as one of "a number of security measures" to protect both its customers and its workers.