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If you think criminals are getting away with it, think again! Narrated by Rav Wilding, this series shows how smart technology and specialist tactics are being used to bring offenders to justice.

Nick Fisher and Simon Gordon – tell the true story of Facewatch and how it is deterring crime across the retail sector.

All episodes are now live on BBC Iplayer:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000tq65/frontline-fightback

 

 

 

Response to the recent demand for legislation to protect shopworkers by Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch Ltd

 

Facewatch’ s mission has always been to provide a service that supports retail business owners and create a better retail experience for the customer in an unobtrusive way. It is, therefore, a sad moment to read reports on the huge increase in anti-social behaviour and violence towards retail staff over the last year. Much of this increase has been caused by a small minority of the public who are frustrated by the need for the in-store safety measures brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic.

Facewatch has, of course, been aware of these challenges and our launch of a new algorithm that is effective in recognising habitual offenders even when wearing a facemask, was one of our immediate priorities and was delivered in November last year. We now see Facewatch’ s role in the retail sector broadened and key to the future of safe retailing.

Facewatch instantly identifies individuals with a track record of crime or anti-social behaviour when entering a store, sending immediate alerts to multiple destinations as determined by the store. These can be to the store manager, security guards, monitoring stations, head office all at the same time in less than 2 seconds, enabling an immediate intervention.

Throughout the pandemic, retailers have needed to control customer volumes in store. In some cases, this has increased costs by using man guarding in addition to all the necessary PPE controls being applied.  The Police have declared they simply do not have the resources to deal with crimes such as store theft and general abuse of retail employees. Consequently, multiple retailers are turning to Facewatch as a proven and effective solution in deterring the undesirable customers from coming to their stores for fear of being recognised, thus preventing all the hassle and stress associated with repeat offenders. In fact, Facewatch customers report a reduction in crime of 25% or more within the first 90 days of deployment with increasing results the longer the system is used.

Signage displayed to customers (and repeat offenders) makes them aware that the system is deployed in the store resulting in both customers and employees reporting feeling safer as a result.  There is no evidence whatsoever that it deters honest customers from shopping at the store.

There are a few minority civil liberty organisation that would have you believe that facial recognition and companies like Facewatch will hold and store your data, track and trace your movement and infringe your liberty! In fact, Facewatch deletes all biometric data of regular customers (non-offenders) immediately and operates above the already strict legislation for biometric technology.

Retail workers have been complete heroes throughout this pandemic and yet over 400 of these heroes are attacked threatened or abused in their workplace every day. That was over 150,000 in 2020 and recent report claim it has increased by 80% in some businesses since the summer. These crimes are highly corrosive to the people working in these challenging circumstances and so the Government must act to criminalise such offence. As a former retail director, who understands completely the challenges placed on modern day retailers I am completely aligned with the 65 retail CEO’s who have written to Boris Johnson to ask for greater protection for shopworkers.

In support of our complete commitment to this, for the duration of the lockdown in England if anti-social behaviour and staff abuse is affecting your business Facewatch will provide one system licence and training free of charge for the first 90 days and if you are not completely satisfied with the results during this period Facewatch will remove the system.

 

Simon Lawrence, owner of Lawrence’s garages, upgraded to the new Facewatch system and over the last 2 months reports that the system’s new periocular algorithm is performing well. He said,

 

Simon Lawrence

Simon Lawrence, Director, of Lawrences’ Garages Ltd

Since Facewatch installed their new face mask system last November we have been impressed with the way it recognises people wearing masks and the new “Facebox” can detect up to 25 faces per second. We have also found that crime has gone down significantly since using Facewatch as word as got out that we are not so easy and there are other softer targets

Facewatch is available at £199 per month to retailers and is proven to reduce crime by at least 25% in the first 90 days of its use and prevents anti-social behaviour.

Facewatch support the BSIA as a full member and are working with the team to publish a guide for the industry on the use of AFR and the need for an understanding of the data laws that currently exist in the UK and Europe. In a recent round table discussion many of the opportunities and challenges for the technology were aired. Nick Fisher was one of the key speakers.

 

Watch the broadcast here:

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Protecting our customers and colleagues

Comment from Gareth Lewis, Loss prevention officer at the Southern Co-op

The current pandemic and a rise in retail crime are both presenting constant challenges for those of us in the convenience sector. At Southern Co-op, we are regularly adapting to the needs of our customers and colleagues to ensure they are as safe as they can be during the pandemic.

We also need to ensure that our stores function efficiently whilst still delivering high levels of customer service. One way to achieve this is through improved technology which we have been rolling out in a number of ways such as self-service checkouts, Amazon lockers and digital security solutions. Our approach is to find solutions that work for everyone.

In my role as the loss prevention and security manager, I have found that facial recognition is one such technology that has helped reduce theft in the stores where it is deployed.

We have completed a successful trial using Facewatch FR in a select number of stores where there is a higher level of crime.  All of our customers have been made aware with distinctive signage and we have introduced a system which does not store images of our customers unless they have been identified in relation to a crime. This ensures it is GDPR compliant whilst also allowing us to gather evidence against more prolific thieves in our stores before entering in discussions with the local police.

The system alerts our store teams immediately when someone enters their store who has a past record of theft or anti-social behaviour. It gives our teams time to decide on the best action which is incredibly important. Our teams have been trained to use the App and watch list software.

Of course, facial recognition is just one tool in a range of other tactics we are using to deter crime and prevent abuse. Southern Co-op’s Protecting Our People programme looks at crime from every angle – causes, prevention, reporting and justice. This includes £100,000 worth of grants to local organisations working to make our neighbourhoods safer. None of our colleagues should have to face threats of violence and we hope our work will help reduce future crime in our stores.

Co-op Copner Portsmouth
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BRC unveils Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge to protect retail workers against crime

Over 400 incidents of violence and abuse against shopworkers occur every day

11 cross-party MPs put their name to the pledge for the launch


The BRC has launched the Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge in an effort to support the legislation necessary to protect retail workers against crime and violence.

On Wednesday, a total of 11 cross-party MPs put their name to the pledge for the launch and the BRC is calling on MPs from all parties to add their name to this cause.

The signatories pledge aims to improve legislation after the BRC Crime Survey found that over 400 incidents of violence and abuse against shopworkers occur every day.

http://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/shopworkers-protection-pledge/ 

THE PLEDGE

Over 400 retail workers face violence and abuse in the workplace every single day. The British Retail Consortium Crime Survey shows an increasing problem of abuse, threats and violence facing the millions of people who work in our shops, serving our local communities. These incidents are often the result of challenging shoplifters, enforcing age restricted sales and recently, implementing coronavirus safety measures.

These victims of abuse carry their experiences with them for a lifetime. It affects them, their colleagues, and the families they go home to. Retail workers don’t just serve the community, they are the community and have been ‘Hidden Heroes’ during the coronavirus pandemic, working tirelessly to keep the nation fed and supplied with the items we have all needed.

As elected Members of Parliament, we have a duty to protect retail workers, ensuring that those who needlessly assault shop staff face the full force of the law. No one should have to face violence or threats in their workplace.

I pledge to champion shopworkers in my constituency and:

  • Recognise the serious impact that violence and abuse has on shopworkers and the local communities they serve.
  • Stand with retail workers to support legislation to better protect them.

Send email here: chantelle.devilliers@brc.org.uk <chantelle.devilliers@brc.org.uk>; to sign the pleadge

In this short video, we preview and test the new Facewatch facemask algorithm. This new upgrade shows a very high level of accuracy and is a great addition to the product especially as the use of facemask and other face coverings is increasing during the gradual return to high street trading

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