Co-op has issued hundreds of its frontline store staff with body cameras amid fears for their safety as violence towards them skyrockets.
The grocer has provided staff at 250 stores with the body-worn devices, and plans are in place to expand this roll out to a further 350 UK stores later this year.
Co-op’s third-party security provider Mitie, which also works with Ikea and Argos, will remotely monitor the cameras which staff have been told to switch on whenever they feel an incident is about to take place.
This will ensure staff have an audio and visual record of any abuse or violence directed at them while working, a threat which has reportedly risen sharply during the pandemic.
According to a reported release by Co-op last month shop workers are facing a “store crime epidemic” and have seen incidents skyrocket 140 per cent this year.
Co-op said the number of violent incidents have hit record levels, with 1350 attacks reported, including shop workers being spat at and threatened with being “given coronavirus”.
“I have never seen such high levels of violence and abuse,” Co-op’s retail security manager Cheryl Houghton said.
“It’s a societal issue that all retailers are concerned about and it’s having lasting effects on the lives of shopworkers – both mentally and physically. It is not part of the job to be verbally abused, threatened or attacked and we’re determined to make sure it isn’t.”
Many of the attacks have been a direct response to shop workers asking customers to maintain social distancing and shop safely.
From Friday 24 face masks will be made mandatory in shops, sparking fears among staff that violence could continue to rise.