31 Mar 2020
The Coronavirus has had an unprecedented effect on our nation’s health and the way we interact societally. This has had a significant impact on the commercial sector both fiscally and the risk of increased anti-social behaviour and crime related incidents in our stores across Liverpool.
Andy Cooke – Chief Constable of Merseyside Police stated: “For that reason I want to take this opportunity to reassure the communities of Merseyside that the force will endeavour to do everything it possibly can to deliver the best possible service during these unprecedented times. And one thing I know about my officers and staff is their desire to help and do everything they can to keep you safe.”
Please find below, some general crime prevention tips that may assist your organisations in this time. The impact on stores will vary and will naturally be defined by its location, size, criminality, customers, produce and its security.
Closed Premises/Venues that have been temporarily shut:
- Limit supplies of High Value Goods to larger retail establishments
- Remove stock and expensive display items from within stores and windows to secure areas within the store
- Create a secure area
- Create defensive layers to buy time
- Conduct a security audit, look for weaknesses and repair/rectify now.
- If appropriate consider hiring visible security staff
- Insurance cover – is it up to date and check cover.
- Ensure that any alarm systems are operating, test and check
- CCTV check and re check is it working – consider mobile phone app
- In larger stores plan potentially for ‘steaming’ type offences whereby large groups can potentially run through clearing shelves of goods
- If stock has to be displayed consider cheaper less desirable stock or deploy empty box tactics
- Prioritise areas most likely to be affected i.e. Retail parks on the outskirts of town, jewellers, larger department stores, designer clothing such as OD’S ,electronic stores.
- Store links, if one is subject of attack notify nearby stores
- Talk to neighbouring stores check what advice they have and can it be incorporated into your business
- Identify any vulnerable areas. Rectify these. Ensure security gates, bollards and fire exit doors have been secured prior to closure of the premises.
- Ensure service doors are closed and locked when not in use.
- Make sure you have list of key holders who can be contacted in times of emergency. Ensure your contact details for staff are up to date.
- Ensure keys to the premises or other venues are not left inside and are instead with dedicated key holders.
- Consider timer switches or ensure sufficient lighting is left on at the premises/surrounding area.
- Ensure there are no combustible materials left in the proximity of the building such as packaging – consider the risk of arson.
- Ensure that no cash is retained on the premises overnight (leave a note on the door stating that no cash or valuables are kept overnight) or store then in a security accredited safe bolted to the floor.
Physical Protective Measures
- External shutters are recommended but some buildings may be subject to planning approval before installation
- Ensure all doors leading from public to staff arteries-loading areas etc are kept secure and monitored.
- Laminated glass or security film that can be applied to existing glass to make it more resistant to a physical assault. Shutters and grilles (subject to planning regulations may also be a consideration)
- An insurance rated safe should be bolted to the floor. Anti-tamper sensors can be fitted to set off an alarm if attacked.
- Anti-ram security tested raider retractable bollards can be mounted externally to protect frontages but may require planning approval.
- Consider use of anti-theft alarms on most desirable household items.
- Fogging devices that activate as a result of an intruder activation may also be beneficial-you can’t steal what you can’t see.
- Premises should be adequately staffed with prominent management present who can make decisions or be identifiable to emergency services.
- Consider an allocation system or queuing to provide items that are provided on a limited basis – or possible keeping these off shop floor for collection.
- Meet and Greets on main entrances to provide reassurance, customer care and a subliminal message to any prospective thieves.
- Establish queueing contingency plans, including any car parking areas, and ensure there is commensurate security, and staff in this area and the main entrances.
- Reassurance to customers, some of whom may be anxious, is key to reduce anti-social behaviour.
- Ensure that all staff are fully briefed each day, on emergency procedures and working practices
- All staff should remain vigilant and report any violence or suspicious activity to the police.
- Check that your emergency equipment/grab bags, first aid supplies and radio communication systems are operational.
If your staff fall victim to an assault or witness violence in your premises:
- Try to remain calm and think of safety: yours, your customers and colleagues is paramount. If the perpetrator has left the premises, consider recording a description and reporting this to police as soon as possible.
- Trust your instincts and maximise distance between yourself, customers, colleagues and any aggressive parties.
- Ensure corporate conflict and exit contingency plans are adhered to.
- Use hold up/ panic alarms if it is appropriate to do so. If there is a hold-up alarm installed use it, but only when safe to do so.
- Consider the use of body worn video technology to capture evidence and positive impact the behaviour of those involved in violence on your premises.
Should there be an incursion onto your premises that is not disorderly and no offences have occurred, if police are requested to attend it should be stressed that the officers attending will expect a representative of the premises to request those trespassing to leave, whilst in the presence and hearing of the officer.
If the police are asked to assist in the ejection of trespassers, then they are acting as an agent of the company or premises and have no more powers and privileges than that of an ordinary member of the public. They would look to stand by to prevent a breach of the peace whilst the persons are encouraged to leave and escorted onto public land by shop/security staff. If there are criminal offences apparent then officers will deal with these as they would in any normal situation.
If we can assist further or you require more bespoke advice, please contact us
Inspector Matt Drennan
Local Police Team, St Helens Police Station