The way your premises are designed in terms of layout, security provision and the general environment can increase the risk of violence and crime happening to your staff.
What are the risks?
Poor location of cash tills and sales displays, blind spots, inappropriate counter design and poor layout can all decrease the visibility of your customers - this can make criminals feel more anonymous and less observed, increasing the likelihood they may commit crime or violence in your store.
Think carefully about how your store is laid out - can it be improved?
- Can you see your customers and colleagues? Consider high and wide counters or installing mirrors to help you see concealed areas.
- How do you manage the way your customers move around your premises? Consider how you can prevent the build-up of crowds or queues.
- Maintain the exterior of your building to prevent break-ins.
Visibility and lighting
If you are not able to easily see your customers and colleagues, spotting and deterring aggressive behaviour becomes more difficult, and staff can feel less safe, criminals can feel more secure.
If this is a risk for you or your staff, ensure your lighting is adequate. You should consider:
- keeping entrances/exteriors and interiors well lit;
- selecting the correct levels and kinds of lighting - it can affect your customers' moods.
Surveillance and CCTV
If you are unable to see all areas of your premises, in person or using CCTV, it may provide more opportunity for potential offenders to commit crime or violence. In addition, without visual evidence of crimes, it can be difficult to identify and prosecute offenders.
- CCTV can help act as a deterrent and direct security staff to where they are needed.
- Head and shoulder images of people entering premises can provide an immediate deterrent for assault and theft.
- CCTV can help you collect evidence to convict offenders.
- CCTV can help your staff feel safer.
- However, CCTV can be expensive and needs monitoring and upkeep - think about whether your risks warrant it.
A lack of security devices such as alarms and locks can increase the risk of crime and work-related violence. However, even where security devices are used, other control measures will help to reduce the risk further:
- Good quality materials and workmanship for doors, windows and locks are important.
- Consider using window restraints, eg bars and shutters.
- Alarms can be useful but make sure your staff know how to use them and how to respond.
Well-trained security personnel can reduce the risk of violence. You may wish to consider using security personnel. However:
- Make sure they are competent and have the right levels of training for what you want them to do. This will include getting a suitable licence to practice from the Security Industry Authority.
This is a risk factor particularly relevant to licensed premises. Crowds of people, particularly under the influence of alcohol, can lead to aggression. This is because people's 'personal space' can be invaded, making them feel uncomfortable. Individuals may behave differently when they are in a group.
Consider how you control crowding at your premises:
- Think about whether you need to limit customer numbers and ensure staff are able to manage entry situations when this limit has been reached.
The presence of intoxicated customers or those using illegal drugs can increase the risk of aggression and violence at your premises.
For licensed premises, intoxicated customers may be common, you should consider whether your staff know how to handle difficult customers by:
- managing drinking up time carefully;
- considering using toughened glass or plastic drinking vessels;
- ensuring that a thorough sweep of the premises is carried out before locking up to ensure all customers have left the premises.