By  18 March 2020  Retail Week 

As the government takes increasingly stringent action to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, retail staff have found themselves on the front line in the face of panic buying and contagion fears.

  • Labour MP Alex Norris calls on government to pass legislation protecting shopworkers from violence, abuse and assault
  • Morrisons CEO David Potts introduces numerous measures to protect staff, including statutory sick pay
  • Several retailers have called on consumers to treat colleagues with respect in the face of growing concerns around stockpiling

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK is rising daily. The government by its own admission has begun imposing “draconian” measures and many consumers have ignored pleas to the contrary and cleared shelves of some products in a stockpiling frenzy.

While panic buying has mostly taken place in supermarkets and grocery convenience stores, instances of consumers hoarding hand sanitiser, soap and over-the-counter medicines have also hit health and beauty retailers.

Social media, Twitter in particular, has started to fill up over the last few days with stories of frontline retail staff working longer hours and coming face to face with fraught and sometimes abusive members of the public, all the while trying to do their best to keep shelves stocked and consumers happy.

On Monday, Labour MP Alex Norris stood up in Parliament and put forward legislation to protect shopworkers from rising levels of violence, abuse and assault.

Norris said the shopworkers were “on the front line” of abuse and crime, and those worries were likely to be exacerbated amid the growing panic about coronavirus, given the “significance retail workers have in our lives, particularly during this period”.

“With the current coronavirus crisis we would argue that retail staff are essential workers”

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has backed the call and said “retail staff are essential to our communities, particularly during the coronavirus crisis”.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis says: “We have always made the case that retail staff are at the heart of our communities, but with the current coronavirus crisis we would argue that they are essential workers.

“Usdaw members across the retail supply chain and in stores are working hard to keep shelves filled and serve customers. We understand this is a stressful time and remind customers that shopworkers deserve respect and that no level of abuse is ever acceptable. It should never be a part of the job.”

The BRC says it is working with police and partners to “keep retail sites running as smoothly as possible” and that “when circumstances are difficult, retailers are well-versed in providing effective security measures”.

In a statement issued to all Morrisons’ stakeholders yesterday, chief executive David Potts agreed and called on consumers to “treat our colleagues on the front line with the greatest respect”.

David Potts

Morrisons boss David Potts asked customers to ‘treat our colleagues on the front line with the greatest respect’

Potts also called on customers to “please consider others even more so everyone can buy what they need, especially those who are most vulnerable in our society”.

A spokesman from another national grocer said there had been a handful of incidents across its estate, but there had not needed to take on extra security guards.

While some retail staff have faced abuse from consumers, others are also struggling with worries about getting the disease themselves – either from customers or from colleagues.

It is becoming a growing concern for businesses that frontline staff, as well as those working in key supply chain roles such as warehouse workers and delivery drivers, will fall sick or be forced to self-isolate as the virus continues to spread.

Earlier this week, in a call between representatives of Defra, supermarket chains and the wider food industry, the possibility of taking thousands of hospitality workers on secondment to work in food supply chains was raised, according to BuzzFeed news. While this could even increase the risk of spreading the virus, it will at least safeguard vital jobs and supply lines in the sector.

‘Amazing group of people’

Protecting staff from spreading the disease is becoming a top priority. The managing director of one high street food and beverage operator told Retail Week his staff are deep cleaning premises three times a day. Under normal circumstances, they would be deep cleaned twice in a month.

A spokeswoman from the Co-op says it has taken “immediate steps” to safeguard staff including building in “additional working hours for store colleagues to undertake more frequent handwashing throughout the day”.

Morrisons and Boots are among those to have implemented measures designed to enhance hygiene and staff safety.

A Boots spokeswoman says it has been “making sure that our stores, pharmacies, opticians and hearing care facilities are all clean and hygienic”. She also says teams in-store “have access to handwashing facilities and sanitiser”.

Boots bag

Boots has ensured staff have access to handwashing facilities and sanitiser

Morrisons yesterday announced a slew of measures designed to protect staff. In order to reduce the handling of cash by shopworkers, the grocer has asked customers to pay by card or smartphone “where possible”.

The grocer has “been issuing hand sanitiser” to all checkout workers in-store, significantly increased cleaning on surfaces that consumers and staff touch and redeployed staff “who are vulnerable to the virus”.

The retailer has also taken measures to protect staff who either fall ill from the virus or are forced to self-isolate and therefore can’t work by creating a ‘colleague hardship fund’. This will ensure all staff affected by the virus receive sick pay “whether or not they would normally be eligible”.

As the retail sector waits to see what measures will be bought in by the government next, many in the industry are rallying around frontline workers in these uncertain times.

Timpson chief executive James Timpson today described employees as “an amazing group of people who I’m going to need to lean on heavily over the coming weeks and months to keep the show on the road”. Other retail leaders will heartily agree and be doing their best on behalf of their people.

Less than a month ago Vista CCTV became the newest partner with Facewatch to distribute this game changing technology to Vista Priority Partners (VPPs). In this series of Face to Face videos Nick Fisher,CEO, Facewatch and Dean Kernot, Sales and Marketing Manager, Vista CCTV go Face to Face in conversation to explore the opportunity.

In a wide ranging discussion with probing questions from Dean and straight talking answers from Nick this huge change to the security landscape is discussed.  Fundamentally Facewatch facial recognition is fast becoming the acceptable, affordable and compliant solution for any business wanting to deter crime and anti-social behaviour whilst providing a safer and more customer orientated environment for visitors and staff.

The full Face to Face film:

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The Facewatch story

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The Problem Facewatch Solves

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The Vista VPP program

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The Accredited Partner Program

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How do watch lists work?

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Why Facewatch?

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In an open debate at The Temple in London the issues of facial recognition and its use by the Police was debated by Fiona Barton QC.

Facewatch was invited to speak to allow the invited barristers to learn more about this important crime deterrent. Presentations by Nick Fisher and our Data Protection officer,Dave Sumner, were made.  The video gives the edited highlights of this wide ranging presentation.

 

Event Video:

 

Presentations from:

Fiona Barton QC, 5 Essex Court

Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch

Dave Sumner, DPO, Facewatch

Fiona Barton QC

5 Essex Court Breakfast presentation

https://5essexcourt.co.uk/

The event:

https://5essexcourt.co.uk/resources/events

 

The Centre for Retail research has produced an overview of crime statistics in the UK which show a continued increase in the level and type of crime facing the retail sector.

https://www.retailresearch.org/crime-costs-uk.html

There are several official and unofficial surveys of retail crime in the UK, including the Home Office Crime Against Business 2018, the British Retail Consortium’s Retail Crime Survey 2018, the Association of Convenience Stores’ The Crime Report 2019, as well as Sensormatic’s Global Shrink Index and Checkpoint’s Global Retail Theft Barometer. Each one has a different methodology and covers a slightly different purpose.

We have consolidated this information into a simple info-graphics with the focus on the major crime and violence issues facing UK retailers

Download the info-graphics guide:

FaceWatch_Infographic_A5 v6-2

Vista CCTV and Facewatch, the UKs leading retail crime deterrent solution using facial recognition, are excited to announce their new partnership to deliver facial recognition software to the security industry.

This new alliance offers large and small business owners alike the opportunity to secure their establishments against low level crime without needing to replace any current cameras or systems.

Dean Kernot, Vista Sales & Marketing Manager, comments:

 This is a really exciting partnership. Retail crime is a growing issue for retailers and Facewatch offers a legal and safe way to provide a deterrent to both shop theft and violence in store. Vista will be working with our network to train, support and deliver this new ground-breaking technology.”

 Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch

 “The Facewatch facial recognition system delivers a game changing technology which is incredibly accurate and fully GDPR compliant. Our solution is aimed at making the retail and hospitality environment safer by providing a deterrent against store theft and bad behaviour.  As a technology focussed business, we can only succeed by working with established and successful partners in the security industry that share our goals and passion. Vista are leaders in their field, and we are astonishingly privileged to be able to work with them to enable Facewatch to scale rapidly by building, with Vista, a network of accredited partners”

The Facewatch facial recognition solution is fully GDPR compliant and Facewatch remain as the data controller. Already an established provider of facial recognition solutions, this has been tested extensively in the retail sector over the last 18 months.

Facewatch is sold as a licenced-based product, creating a recurring revenue stream for installers who will provide ongoing technical and product management support to their customers.

The solution will be available via Vista accredited partners who have been trained both in practical security system set up and ensuring end user compliance whilst using the Facewatch system.

Vista CCTV company background:

 Vista is a UK based manufacturer of Video Surveillance Systems and hosted Access Control systems. Owned and exclusively distributed by leading security supplier Norbain SD, we have made it our mission to understand our customers’ needs. Our CCTV security solutions offer innovative products, using the most powerful and stable technologies – wrapped up in a support environment to ensure your projects run smoothly.

We pride ourselves on creating a range of differentiated solutions, developed in alignment with customer feedback to help you to deliver in the ever-changing marketplace.

 Facewatch company background:

Facewatch have been providing crime prevention solutions to the retail industry for over 10 years. The business was started by Simon Gordon, owner of London’s oldest wine bar, on the Embankment in London. The Wine bar was a target for pickpockets and bag thieves, and he wanted to provide a relaxed and safe environment for his customers. Being technology minded and working with the local police he launched the first ever online crime reporting system including CCTV footage. This led to the launch of the first facial recognition solution in 2017, enabling retailers to deter habitual criminals who were shoplifting, abusing staff or causing criminal damage.

Today the Facewatch system provides a GDPR compliant solution that is easy to install, can be used and managed by small stores and is scalable for use by large retail groups due to its unique cloud-based servers and using Intel® NUC mini PCs. Data is managed securely by Facewatch. Facewatch doesn’t store information about the general public, just those for whom their retailer subscribers have uploaded confirmed evidence of criminal activity. If a facial image is not matched to a relevant watch list the algorithmic data is instantly deleted.

 

Figure 1. Facewatch matches faces against known offenders within seconds of them entering a business

Facewatch technology

 Facewatch system overview:

Facewatch uses the software-as-a-service technology model, making advanced facial recognition affordable for even small businesses. The company’s watchlist lives on the cloud. It’s a centralized, managed database of biometric data corresponding to the faces of people who are reasonably suspected of having shoplifted or committed other crimes at businesses that subscribe to the service (Figure 1).

 The hardware to run Facewatch is simple to deploy. It includes a standard HD CCTV camera and Intel® NUC, a mini-PC that is only 4×4 inches in size and consumes very little power. Its performance enables it to play and record video at 4K Ultra HD clarity, making it ideal for a facial recognition system. The cameras—placed at store entrances—send an image to an on-site NUC loaded with software that converts the image to an algorithm. The algorithm is compared to those in the Facewatch relevant watchlist for that property and if there is a match an alert—along with an accuracy reading—is sent to the retailer’s smartphone or other device, warning it that a known criminal on the watchlist has entered its business.

To add a shoplifter to the watchlist takes only six key presses and about 20 seconds, making it easy for store or security staff, and it doesn’t interfere with their normal duties. “They simply follow a dropdown menu, the time and date are automated, tick the box, the whole thing’s designed to be simple but highly secure and includes a confirmatory legal statement confirming that the information is accurate.” said Nick Fisher, CEO of Facewatch.

The solution does not retain any personal data on anyone not on the watchlist. “If no match is discovered, the image is deleted in 0.3 seconds” Fisher said, “and the entire process—from the moment a known shoplifter comes through the door, to the instant the retailer gets an alert—takes less than two seconds.”

 

SBT are one of the leading providers of technology solutions to the retail sector in Spain and believe that facial recognition as a retail crime deterrent, as in the UK, is an important tool to improve the retail experience for both customers and staff.  With an international customer base and a focus on customer behaviour analysis, shopping experience and loss prevention the adoption of Facewatch the leading AFR system into SBT’s portfolio was seen as a natural step.

Jose Alvarez Abad, VP Strategic & Sales, SBT said:

“We have been watching the development of AFR for the retail sector with interest as Spain unfortunately experiences the same type of issues that plague the UK retail sector. As a specialist provider of retail technology, it became apparent that with the current European data laws Facewatch was the product that met all our requirements and gives us the opportunity to run trials with our key clients immediately.”

Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch Ltd

“Facewatch is fast becoming the standard for retail sector facial recognition in the UK and this has led to huge interest across Europe and the World. In 2016 we launched our first version of Facewatch facial recognition in Brazil and using our real world experience and early adoption of the GDPR privacy principles we have created an incredibly simple and effective system that is fully GDPR compliant.  The opportunity to work with SBT and appoint them as our distributor in Spain is great news for us, as having the opportunity to work with a well-established technology focused partner like SBT allows us to scale in other countries in the knowledge the training, implementation and GDPR compliance will be expertly managed.

 

SBT company background

SBT is a Spanish company specialising in the analysis, design and implement high technology solutions to the retail market. SBT’s clients include Pepe Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger and Pikolinos.

Established in 2017 the business is formed by a group of professionals with a broad experience with the focus on 4 business areas: In-store customers and product behaviour, operations and shopping experience,  security and loss prevention analytics and general retail services.

www.sb-tec.com

Facewatch company background:

Facewatch have been providing crime prevention solutions to the retail industry for over 10 years. The business was started by Simon Gordon owner of London’s oldest wine bar on the Embankment in London. The Wine bar was a target for pick pockets and bag thieves and he wanted to provide a relaxed and safe environment for his customers. Being technology minded and working with the local police he launched the first ever online crime reporting system including CCTV footage. This led to the launch of the first facial recognition solution in 2017, enabling retailers to deter habitual criminals who were shoplifting, abusing staff or causing criminal damage.

Today the Facewatch system provides a GDPR compliant solution that is easy to install, can be used and managed by small stores and is scalable for use by large retail groups due to its unique cloud-based servers and using Intel® NUC mini PCs. Data is managed securely by Facewatch. Facewatch doesn’t store information about the general public, just those for whom their retailer subscribers have uploaded confirmed evidence of criminal activity. If a facial image is not matched to a relevant watch list the algorithmic data is instantly deleted.

Figure 1. Facewatch matches faces against known offenders within seconds of them entering a business

Facewatch technology

Facewatch solution overview:

Facewatch uses the software-as-a-service technology model, making advanced facial recognition affordable for even small businesses. The company’s watchlist of Subjects of Interest (SOI’s) is stored securely in the cloud. It’s a centralised, managed database of biometric data corresponding to the faces of people who are reasonably suspected of having shoplifted or committed other crimes at businesses that subscribe to the service (Figure 1).

The hardware to run Facewatch is simple to deploy. It includes a standard HD CCTV camera and Intel® NUC, a mini-PC that is only 4×4 inches in size and consumes very little power. Its performance enables it to play and record video at 4K Ultra HD clarity, making it ideal for a facial recognition system. The cameras—placed at store entrances—send an image to an on-site NUC loaded with software that converts the image to an algorithm. The algorithm is compared to those in the Facewatch relevant watchlist for that property and if there is a match an alert—along with an accuracy reading—is sent to the retailer’s smartphone or other device, warning it that a known criminal on the watchlist has entered its business.

To add a shoplifter to the watchlist takes only six key presses and about 20 seconds, making it easy for store or security staff, and it doesn’t interfere with their normal duties. “They simply follow a dropdown menu, the time and date are automated, tick the box, the whole thing’s designed to be simple but highly secure and includes a confirmatory legal statement to ensure that the information is accurate.” said Nick Fisher, CEO of Facewatch.The solution does not retain any personal data on anyone not on the watchlist. “If no match is discovered, the image is deleted in 0.3 seconds” Fisher said, “and the entire process—from the moment a known shoplifter comes through the door, to the instant the retailer gets an alert—takes less than two seconds.”

For more information:

Smart Business Technologies

Jose Alvarez Abad

VP Strategic & Sales

jose.alvarez@sb-tec.com

(+34) 629 844 266

Pº de la Castellana 153

28046 Madrid – Spain

www.sb-tec.com   

 

Facewatch

Stuart Greenfield

PRO

T: 07788 662697

E: stuart.greenfield@facewatch.co.uk

www.facewatch.co.uk

 

 

David Davies, the technical director, of DVS goes on camera to explain the merits of Facewatch to their customers.  DVS were appointed by Facewatch just a few weeks ago to distribute Facewatch to the UK CCTV and security reseller market.

DVS will provide sales, support and training for Facewatch under a newly announced Facewatch Accredited Solutions Partner Program (ASP). This ensures that CCTV and security resellers will confidently be able to install, and support Facewatch in retail stores across the UK with total confidence:

 

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For more information on how to become a Facewatch ASAP please call DVS or the Facewatch team:

www.dvs.co.uk

DVS, one of the UK’s leading CCTV camera and components distributors, will become the first UK distributor to provide a facial recognition crime deterrent solution to their installer and reseller network.

The use of facial recognition as a deterrent to stop shop theft and violence in retail stores is rapidly gaining acceptance. The Facewatch system has been successfully tested across a range of retailers over the last 18 months. With demand increasing making Facewatch available via the established UK reseller channel will ensure the product, training and support is provided at the very highest level and a rapid roll out can be achieved.

Facewatch, which is sold as a licenced product is GDPR compliant and the uploaded criminal data is the responsibility of Facewatch under a data-sharing agreement has been signed by the user. Facewatch will be available to ‘approved’ installers who have been trained on both the practical setup of the cameras and aspects of managing and running the system.

Gavin Dunleavy, Commercial Director, DVS Ltd

“Facial recognition is being discussed within businesses and the wider world by those who understand that the best technologies can deter and prevent crime. Facewatch is the leading facial recognition solution with a focus on the retail sector and other verticals alike.  With GDPR compliance and privacy controls built into the system the solution becomes powerful and legally deployable. Facewatch combines simple CCTV hardware with a secure cloud-based software solution, so accredited training and support is of the utmost importance for our installers to deliver this incredible solution. We will be running training from our HQ initially then across the UK with a plan to have trained and accredited strategic partners in place throughout 2020.”

DVS Company Background

A fast-paced and energetic organisation, DVS has embraced innovative technological advances in the industry and are now one of the industry’s most proficient distributors of IP CCTV products. Formed in 2003, DVS has quickly established itself as one of Europe’s most successful multi-brand distributors of electronic surveillance products. This has been built on significant investment into our superb sales and technical teams, and a state-of-the-art demonstration and training facility located at DVS HQ. Professional and proficient staff, with a fantastic working environment, ensures that customers and suppliers alike always receive a positive impression.

 

Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch Ltd

“DVS are a perfect partner for us. They have a highly technical team; they are used to working with the very latest CCTV technology and have a great team on the road and at their HQ offering sales and technical support. Facewatch is a sophisticated SAAS (software as a service) product that requires training and support and DVS have a well-established training team who will work with us to establish a network of approved Facewatch installers. Facewatch is supplied on licence and therefore creates a new recurring income stream for installers who will provide lifelong technical, product management and training support to their customers. We are very excited to announce DVS as our channel partner.”

 

Facewatch company background:

Facewatch have been providing crime prevention solutions to the retail industry for over 10 years. The business was started by Simon Gordon owner of London’s oldest wine bar on the Embankment in London. The Winebar was a target for pickpockets and bag thieves and he wanted to provide a relaxed and safe environment for his customers. Being technology-minded and working with the local police he launched the first-ever online crime reporting system including CCTV footage. This led to the launch of the first facial recognition solution in 2017, enabling retailers to deter habitual criminals who were shoplifting, abusing staff or causing criminal damage.

Today the Facewatch system provides a GDPR compliant solution that is easy to install, can be used and managed by small stores and is scalable for use by large retail groups due to its unique cloud-based servers and using Intel® NUC mini PCs. Data is managed securely by Facewatch. Facewatch doesn’t store information about the general public, just those for whom their retailer subscribers have uploaded confirmed evidence of criminal activity. If a facial image is not matched to a relevant watch list the algorithmic data is instantly deleted.

Figure 1. Facewatch matches faces against known offenders within seconds of them entering a business

Facewatch: block diagram of a system

 

Facewatch solution overview:

Facewatch uses the software-as-a-service technology model, making advanced facial recognition affordable for even small businesses. The company’s watchlist lives on the cloud. It’s a centralized, managed database of biometric data corresponding to the faces of people who are reasonably suspected of having shoplifted or committed other crimes at businesses that subscribe to the service .

The hardware to run Facewatch is simple to deploy. It includes a standard HD CCTV camera and Intel® NUC, a mini-PC that is only 4×4 inches in size and consumes very little power. Its performance enables it to play and record video at 4K Ultra HD clarity, making it ideal for a facial recognition system. The cameras—placed at store entrances—send an image to an on-site NUC loaded with software that converts the image to an algorithm. The algorithm is compared to those in the Facewatch relevant watchlist for that property and if there is a match an alert—along with an accuracy reading—is sent to the retailer’s smartphone or other device, warning it that a known criminal on the watchlist has entered its business.

To add a shoplifter to the watchlist takes only six key presses and about 20 seconds, making it easy for store or security staff, and it doesn’t interfere with their normal duties. “They simply follow a dropdown menu, the time and date are automated, tick the box, the whole thing’s designed to be simple but highly secure and includes a confirmatory legal statement confirming that the information is accurate.” said Nick Fisher, CEO of Facewatch.

 

The solution does not retain any personal data on anyone not on the watchlist. “If no match is discovered, the image is deleted in 0.3 seconds” Fisher said, “and the entire process—from the moment a known shoplifter comes through the door, to the instant the retailer gets an alert—takes less than two seconds.”