Tesco: frontline workers to be offered body cameras after a spike in verbal and physical attacks

Tesco has invested £44m in four years on security measures
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Staff at Tesco are to be offered body cameras amid a rise in verbal and physical attacks. 

Ken Murphy, the supermarket's chief executive said the move is to protect its "unsung heroes" after physical assaults rose by a third compared with this time last year.

In the Mail on Sunday, Murphy said that those responsible are "small in number, but have a disproportionate impact" on staff.

Murphy said Tesco has invested £44m in four years on security measures including door access systems, protection screens and digital radios, as well as cameras. 

Tesco has been reported to the UK competition watchdog over a lack of clear pricing on some of its food and drink promotions (Photo: Getty Images)Tesco has been reported to the UK competition watchdog over a lack of clear pricing on some of its food and drink promotions (Photo: Getty Images)
Tesco has been reported to the UK competition watchdog over a lack of clear pricing on some of its food and drink promotions (Photo: Getty Images)

He said: "Money spent on making sure people are safe at work is always well spent. But it should not have to be like this. Crime is a scourge on society and an insult to shoppers and retail workers."

The retail boss labelled the rise in incidents as "unacceptable" and condemned the impact on workers, saying it is "time we put an end to it". 

He called for a change in the law to make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence across the UK, saying "we cannot go on like this".

He said: "I want those who break the law in our stores brought to book.

"After a long campaign by retailers and the union Usdaw, last year the government made attacking shop workers an aggravating factor in convictions - meaning offenders should get longer sentences. Judges should make use of this power. But we need to go further, as in Scotland, and make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence in itself."

Murphy also called for better links with police forces and for businesses to be given a right to know how a case is proceeding when someone commits a crime in one of their stores.

"This would help us to spot patterns and provide reassurance that justice is being done," he said.

The trade association, which represents more than 200 retailers in the UK, said the cost of retail crime was £1.76bn in 2021/22, with £953m lost to customer theft, and £715m spent on prevention.

Tesco joins Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Co-op, who began offering body cameras to staff over fears for their safety two years ago.

The figures reflect findings by trade association the British Retail Consortium published in March. It found attacks on staff, including racial and sexual abuse, physical assault, and threats with weapons, increased to over 850 incidents a day - almost double the pre-COVID levels of 450 a day.

Last summer, 100 retail chiefs wrote to 41 Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, urging them to make crime in retail a priority in local policing strategies.

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