Body cam trial in Central England Co-op stores aimed at keeping colleagues and customers safe

Central England Co-op is trialling the use of colleague body cameras as part of its ongoing effort to keep staff safe and help drive down crime in stores.

The retailer, which has over 260 stores across 16 counties, has begun the trial in its Erdington and Great Barr stores and expects it to last between six and eight weeks.

If successful, the cameras could be rolled out across other stores in the business in an effort to deter threats and acts of violence towards colleagues and security guards.

This comes as part of an ongoing high-profile Central England Co-op campaign for more to be done to protect shopworkers who find themselves a victim of crime, a campaign which recently was backed by over 200 MPs from across the political divide.

Nicola Walton, loss prevention advisor, said: “We are aware that any kind of crime can be frightening for store colleagues.

“We are doing everything we can to prevent incidents like this from happening, but if something does happen we offer them support and counselling both from within our business and from specialists. 

“We work closely with police forces across the 16 counties in which we trade in order to protect our colleagues, customers and communities.

“Over the past few years we have invested heavily in a range of measures to keep our colleagues and customers safe from centrally monitored CCTV systems that can be activated at the touch of a button to increased numbers of security guards.

“We are always looking at further ways we can deter would-be criminals and this is why we have launched this body cam trial in two stores in the West Midlands.

“We are looking forward to seeing the results and hopeful it will provide another tool in our zero tolerance approach to any type of crime towards our colleagues and customers.”

Recent figures from the retailer showed assaults jumped by 100%, threats and intimidation by 25% and verbal abuse by 175% since the start of the year, and since the lockdown was introduced, there have been over 100 incidents related directly to people using COVID-19 as a threat.

Some examples of incidents have included multiple threats by customers to cough on colleagues and ‘give them Coronavirus’ and further threats of assaults because people have had to queue to enter stores, social distance or simply because they do not have a specific product.