In a move to ensure the safety of its frontline staff, Tesco, one of the UK’s leading supermarket chains, has decided to offer body cameras to its employees. This decision was catalysed by an “unacceptable” surge in both verbal and physical assaults on its workforce.
The supermarket’s CEO, Ken Murphy, expressed deep concern over the rise in physical assaults on Tesco staff, witnessing a one-third increase compared to last year’s figures. In a recent article for the Mail on Sunday, Murphy stated that although the attackers are few, their detrimental actions leave a lasting impact on the workers.
Tesco’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its employees is evident in its £44m investment over the past four years. These funds have been channelled towards advanced security measures, including door access systems, digital radios, protection screens, and now, body cameras. Mr. Murphy emphasised, “Money spent on making sure people are safe at work is always well spent.”
However, he lamented the circumstances leading to such measures, highlighting that “Crime is a scourge on society and an insult to shoppers and retail workers.” The Tesco chief further proposed a change in UK law, making it an offence to abuse or harm retail workers.
Addressing the pressing issue, Mr. Murphy said, “I want those who break the law in our stores brought to book.” He cited the successful campaign last year, backed by retailers and the unions, which influenced the government to consider attacks on shop workers as an aggravating factor in convictions. This meant that perpetrators would potentially face longer sentences. Nonetheless, Murphy believes that the measures should be more stringent, similar to those in Scotland. He further emphasised the need for improved collaboration with police forces and ensuring businesses are informed about case progressions for crimes committed in their stores.
This initiative by Tesco mirrors actions taken by other retail giants like Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Co-op. All of these companies began offering body cameras to their staff two years ago due to escalating concerns about employee safety.
A report from the British Retail Consortium in March revealed disturbing figures. The data highlighted a stark rise in assaults on retail staff, with incidents increasing to over 850 per day – almost double the pre-COVID figures of 450 per day.
Retail chiefs have been proactive in their approach. Last summer, 100 of them penned letters to 41 Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, urging a focus on retail crimes in their local policing strategies.
The Workers Union Says…
“This escalation in retail crimes underscores the need for robust preventive measures, emphasizing the necessity of change at both the corporate and legislative levels. Workers must be protected.”