Security advice for retailers

03 Aug 2020


Over the past few months, all of our lives have changed dramatically. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on our nation’s health and the way we interact societally. This has had a significant impact on retail sector and the risk of increased anti-social behaviour and crime related incidents in stores.

Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets has been made mandatory in England in a fresh move to stop the spread of COVID-19. The government have announced that anyone who fails to comply with the order, which came into force on July 24th, could face a fine of up to £100.

Many retail owners and staff are worried that with the introduction of mandatory face coverings in shops, could see an increase of shoplifting and petty crime.

Merseyside Police have authorised additional police resources to provide reassurance and protection to prevent crime, and have dedicated Community Service Officer for St Helens town centre. The Public Health Regulations 2020 bill came into effect in March, granting the police new powers. The guidelines, which have been issued by the government in partnership with the Police Federation of England and Wales, the National Police Chief’s Council, and the College of Policing, will follow a common-sense approach defined by the “Four E’s” – Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce.

To prevent your store from falling victim to crime, you should consider:
Not leaving the shop floor unattended – if staff need breaks, close the shop for a short while and put a note on the door to explain the short closure. Remind customers to observe the social distancing advice if they have to wait outside. If you have a website, add any revised opening hours.

A radio communication system – radio communication systems works closely with local authorities and intend to reduce retail crime and antisocial behaviour and to help make shopping areas safer for customers and staff. St Helens Chamber can provide businesses with a Shopwatch radio link system. All members of Shopwatch also gain St Helens Chamber Membership. For more information please contact 01744 742125 or email

Remind staff to be vigilant at all times – explain to staff that there may be an increase in targeted crime and extra vigilance is required. Never leave keys in the till.

Check your CCTV is working – ensure there is sufficient lighting for the CCTV, that the view isn’t obscured and the camera is providing good images.

Keep valuable items away from exits – move any valuable or high demand items nearer to the checkout areas, during the current climate this will include anti-bacterial wash and cleaning products.

Key/electronic card inventory – make sure your keys or electronic cards are not left on the premises. In case of emergency, make sure there’s a list of keyholders who can be contacted. Regular key audits will highlight any issues with missing keys.

Minimise cash on site – try not to keep cash on the premises. Try to take cash to the bank frequently, but go at different times of the day to avoid routine. If cash needs to stay on site, always use a bolted-down safe with a time lock and anti-tamper sensors that trigger an alarm. Encourage customers to pay contactless/by card. St Helens Chamber Members have access to Chamber Chip and Pin that can incorporate contactless payments.
If you notice someone acting strangely around your property or causing trouble, don’t just ignore it. Remember your personal safety should be paramount, if you feel at risk stay securely in the building and contact the police for assistance.

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.

If you are victim or witness of crime, please report it to Merseyside Police. In emergencies always call 999.
For non-emergencies, visit the Merseyside Police website to find ways of reporting online, or call 101.
We understand how damaging the effects of crime and anti-social behaviour can be.

In addition to the police, St Helens Council can also provide support to victims and witnesses, contact 01744 676789 for more advice and support.