Brendan Musgrove, Managing Director at Cordant Security, writes for Infologue.com about the impact of the charge for single use carrier bags on security personnel. He writes: “This week I made my television debut on ITV regional news and my chosen subject was carrier bags! It has been six months since the introduction of the minimum 5p charge for single use carrier bags and I was asked to comment on whether it was harder for security personnel to identify and prevent shoplifters.
“The simple answer is yes. Certainly the retail environment is more complex nowadays due to the number of variables involved. Let’s use an example of a typical scenario before the change in legislation, which would involve a single shop visit. The flow would be very simple as the shopper walks in empty handed, uses a basket or trolley to shop, and then checks out using the appropriately branded bag. This was a very straightforward process to observe and any deviation was easily seen by exception.
“Post legislation a shopper may now walk in empty handed, with personal luggage or with a range of branded bags. Similarly at the checkout the number of variables has increased as shoppers can choose to carry out their items in their arms, use any type of carrier bag or personal luggage.
“Even the act of shopping has changed with some consumers choosing to use the bags they have brought into the store instead of a trolley or wire basket as well as a way of carrying goods home. Others have decided to try and use wire baskets as a way of carrying goods home, causing retailers in some instances to have to secure baskets and trollies or risk significant losses. When the legislation was first introduced in Wales and Scotland there were reports of substantial increases in the number of baskets being pilfered, so this was something we were prepared for, and one key step was to ensure that baskets were placed away from the doors with retro-fit tags applied.
“In the early days we did have instances where our security guards were asked to step in and support the shop workers who had to settle disputes with disgruntled customers and police the use of plastic bags. This was inevitable and we see this whenever there is a change of procedure, as people can get frustrated and take it out on the shop worker. This did stretch security resources and divert attention from potential thefts elsewhere but relatively quickly people started to accept the charges.
“This increasing complexity in store has provided the potential shoplifter with more opportunities to ply their trade and there is no doubt that makes it more difficult for security providers to identify theft and execute a good stop. At Cordant Security we have risen to the challenge by working closely with our retail partners in advance of the legislation being implemented to develop new approaches to these issues. We have made sure that our officers were trained well in advance and kept abreast of the changing habits of shoplifters.
“Security is, as always, an ever-moveable feast but as an industry we are used to new challenges and perhaps even thrive on them”.
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