Central England Co-op has launched of a range of new security measures in its food stores in an effort to keep colleagues, customers and the community safe from crime.
This comes after The Chronicle & Echo published its feature last year about staff who revealed the trauma of daily experiences with store crime at Northampton's convenience stores.
Last year Matthew Jones, who worked in the Old Duston Co-op branch for five years, told the Chron: “We had bouts of almost daily antisocial behaviour from people stealing, assaulting and abusing staff and customers.
“There were two burglaries within 12 months and an armed robbery. This was all on top of the usual theft retail stores have to contend with.
“We lost a lot of staff because they simply didn’t feel safe.”
Just Monday this week, Northamptonshire Police issued an appeal for witnesses following a robbery at the Co-op supermarket in Wootton Hope Drive, Wootton.
At about 11.30pm on Saturday, October 27, three men forced their way into the shop, threatened staff and stole cigarettes, alcohol and cash.
Now, the retailer has completed a review into how it keep stores secure and, as a result, has improved current measures or put in place new ones to ensure criminals know that targeting convenience supermarkets is not ‘worth the risk’.
Among the changes and improvements now in place are specialist tracking devices installed on a range of items from cigarettes to ATMs to allow the police to be led directly to criminals, a centrally monitored CCTV system, which allows colleagues to call for assistance at the touch of a button, a change in closing times and a review of the way security guards are used.
The retailer’s Loss Prevention team has also been working closely with ATM provider Cardtronics to implement additional security measures to prevent the internal safe from opening if gas or explosives are used – meaning would-be thieves walk away empty-handed.
Craig Goldie, loss prevention advisor at Central England Co-op, said: “We are aware that incidents such as robberies and ATM thefts are frightening for store colleagues, who are our first priority.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent incidents like this from happening, but if something does happen we offer them support and counselling both from within our business and specialists.
“Now we have put in place new and improved tools to work with the police and partners to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We want our message to be clear – it is not worth the risk to target Central England Co-operative food stores and we are doing everything in our power to combat crime in our communities and keep people safe when they shop.”
The central monitoring system allows colleagues to press a button to alert a special control room who will then be able to watch what is happening on CCTV and call for immediate assistance from the emergency services if required.
External motion detectors have also been installed outside of food stores and will be activated outside of trading hours.
When activated they will switch on CCTV cameras that will allow specially trained camera operatives to monitor the situation and act on it.