Boots, Matalan and JD Sports have given their employees bodycams amid a surge in the number of violent disputes over the wearing of face masks in Britain’s shops.
Abuse towards shop workers has doubled since the coronavirus crisis took hold last year, with retail union USDAW saying 42 per cent of violent incidents relate to rows over face coverings.
British tech firm Reveal, which supplies the body-worn cameras, today confirmed a 30 per cent surge in sales throughout 2020, attributed to an increase in demand from UK stores.
It has seen an 80 per cent jump in retail customers since the pandemic began, with High Street stores Matalan and JD Sports among those which use the devices.
Boots is also currently trialling use of the cameras, which are said to deter aggression by ‘de-escalating the seriousness of the incident’.
British tech firm Reveal, which supplies the body-worn cameras, today confirmed a 30 per cent surge in sales throughout 2020, attributed to an increase in demand from UK stores. Pictured: Bodycams worn by Co-op employees
Other British stores which have adopted the use of bodycams include Co-op, which has invested a total of £70million in security measures for staff across the UK.
In July, the supermarket confirmed it gave its workers at more than 500 stores the gizmos after more than 2,000 employees were attacked in 2019.
The supermarket chain said it has seen store crime increase by more than 140 per cent year-on-year, despite communities recognising the critical role played by key retail workers in society.
Sainsbury’s also introduced the neck-worn security cameras – typically worn by police officers – last year in a bid to prevent their staff being attacked at work.
They were initially introduced in ‘a small number of stores’ where safety measures were considered necessary.
Alasdair Field, CEO of Reveal, said: ‘For many, the pandemic has opened their eyes to some of the daily challenges faced by retail workers, from managing customer behaviour to enforcing new rules.
‘Unfortunately, recent figures show incidents of violence and abuse toward staff are at the second highest ever recorded.
Two smiling Co-op staff point to the body-worn cameras after a rise in attacks against staff
Paddy Lillis, General Secretary of USDAW, said close to 90 per cent of retail workers reported suffering abuse, with two-thirds threatened and nearly one in ten assaulted, according to a recent survey. Pictured: Stock image.
‘If retail is to maximise its role in the post-Covid economic recovery, measures to protect staff, customers and reduce losses are going to be crucial.
‘What we’ve learnt from many years working with the police, government and health sectors is that body worn cameras provide support, reassurance, and confidence to both staff and the public.
‘They have been proven to reduce complaints, increase safety, limit the use of force and even increase productivity.
‘In 2021 we expect the presence of body worn cameras to be more prominent, with front-facing cameras in particular being used to deescalate incidents.’
Paddy Lillis, General Secretary of USDAW, said close to 90 per cent of retail workers reported suffering abuse, with two-thirds threatened and nearly one in ten assaulted, according to a recent survey.
He added there is ‘no doubt’ that body-worn cameras have a deterrent effect.
Mr Lillis told MailOnline: ‘Too often shop workers are confronted with violence, threats and abuse as a part of their daily working lives. Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many of our members.
‘There is no doubt that body-worn cameras do have a deterrent effect and we are very supportive of such measures aimed at reducing violence, threats and abuse at work.
‘Staff wearing cameras need to properly trained and the public must be fully aware they are in use, to act as a deterrent to would-be attackers.
‘Retail staff are an important part of our communities, their role must be valued, respected and protected.’