Robbery can be considered the actions of one or more people that threaten, injure or intimidate others to part with money or goods.
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Robberies and any other critical emergency are what retailers hope their business never have to experience. It is vitally important for retailers to be proactively thinking about preventative security measures for the business whilst equally focusing on how to prioritise the safety of staff and customers.
There are several potential critical emergencies retails must deal with; from threats of arson to natural disaster. It is therefore necessary that business owners spend time planning and designing protocols in the eventuality of emergency given the prevailing government legislation.
The initial focus to prevent a robbery must be to remove opportunity. Procedures regarding opening and closing the premises, use of cash registers, cash handling, credit card processing and cheque transactions are highly advised. Opening and closing times are the most likely times for robberies in retail. To minimise this, retailers can consider rostering mutliple staff members during these hours. Alternatively, staff could be provided with personal duress alarm if additional wages are not possible. Other actions to reduce the likelihood the business becoming an easy target are:
- Installing barriers i.e. security doors
- Reducing cash levels on premise
- Security signage
- Developing procedures for cash handling, storage and transfer
- Restricting unauthorised access to the workplace
- Clear visibility in and out of the store
With respects to retail staff, helpful guidelines to stay mindful of potential risks include:
- Keeping an eye on people in store
- Follow safety, security and emergency procedures
- Minimise cash
- Bank regularly
- Restrict access to cash handling areas
- Keep safes locked
- Lock doors when counting cash
- Do not disclose how much cash is kept on premise, if any
In the unlikely event of a robbery, the safety and security of staff and customers should be the only two priorities. Merchandise can be most likely be replaced, but psychological and physical injuries sometimes cannot be remedied. Businesses should do everything possible to priorities people in emergencies.
Under Workplace Health and Safety legislation, retailers must take reasonable steps to minimise risks to staff well being. Employers must also arrange counselling service for victims and notify Work Cover within 7 days by completing an Incident Notification from whether physical injury has occurred or not.
It would be ideal that staff receive adequate training at the time of induction on how to behave during and after any critical emergency. Helping staff learn what to expect during an incident can minimise the possible long-term impacts on both themselves and customers.
During a robbery, survival is key. This needs to be understood by staff as customers will often look to them for guidance during incidents. If staff remain calm and follow instructions it encourages customer to do likewise.
Some direction to reduce the likelihood of undue risk are:
- Do exactly as the offender asks
- Stay calm and quiet
- Avoid eye contact
- Avoid sudden movements
- Do not chase the offender
- Never attempt to attack the offender
- Be vigilant of the offender’s appearance; notice their gender, height, hair colour, voice etc.
- Note down the offender’s method of getaway
The most senior staff should take charge after the incident to check the safety of staff and customers. They should also notify management, ensure prompt medical attention, and prepare an incident report. It is recommended management oversee the support of customers and staff who have unfortunately experienced the incident. If they have been injured, contacting their next of kin is important as is ensuring their safe journey home.
It is recommended staff and customers abstain from discussing the incident prior to police arrival so their observations stay fresh.
In addition to the impacts of people, retailers should also consider the potential costs to the business. There are several underlying cost outside the evident loss of goods that can be incurred from a robbery such as: insurance premiums, workers compensation, loss of good staff and repeat customers who fear for their safety, and staff sick leave.
About ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au