An initial rollout proved successful in the Lichfield-based retailer’s efforts to combat crime and keep staff and customers safe.
The retailer, which has more than 260 stores across 16 counties, initially launched the body cams in over 50 of its shops last year after an initial trial at two Birmingham sites.
Now, due to its positive impact, it will be rolled out across another 38 stores across the business in an effort to deter threats and acts of violence towards shop staff and security guards.
Stores in Staffordshire and the wider West Midlands are included in the new rollout.
It comes after tougher penalties came into law for those who attack shop workers, following a campaign by retailers, including Central England Co-op (CEC).
Under the new legislation, abuse against individuals who serve the public has become an aggravated offence and CEC is continuing its work to highlight the impact of violence and abuse towards its staff and warn would-be criminals it is not worth the risk.
New figures covering the first six months of this year from CEC stores do show some green shoots of improvement, with significant drops in verbal abuse and threats compared to the previous year when measures such as social distancing and mandatory mask wearing were more prevalent.
However, the figures also reveal continued rises in assaults, with 56 recorded in the first six months of the year compared to 41 in the same period in 2021, and in thefts, with 5,855 compared to 5,356
Loss prevention advisor Nicola Walton said: “Our body camera rollout last year to over 50 of our stores was a great success. It allowed our colleagues to feel safer while serving their communities and played its part as another deterrent to prevent crimes before they take place.
“We’re aware that any kind of crime can be frightening for store colleagues, and this is why we’re extending the rollout of the technology to 38 more stores across our trading estate.
“Over the past few years, we have invested heavily in a range of measures to keep our colleagues and customers safe, ranging from centrally-monitored CCTV systems that can be activated at the touch of a button to increased numbers of security guards. Today’s news is just another way we can continue to invest in keeping people safe at work and while they shop.
“This will provide us with another tool in our efforts to have a zero tolerance approach to any type of crime towards our colleagues and customers. We now ask shoppers to work with us to make sure that nobody has to face abuse or violence in their place of work.”
Store manager Nigel Smith, whose store was included in the initial rollout of the technology, said: “Having the body cams in our store has proved really beneficial – they’ve given colleagues that extra reassurance and they have all taken to using them well.
“If people come into the store with intent to cause trouble, if they see we’ve a camera on it does make them think twice. When customers ask about them, we explain that they’re there for our protection but also for their protection as well and we’ve had a really positive reaction to that and it’s great to see more of my colleagues receiving this technology for their stores.”