The Realities of Retail Security in the Modern Age

The world of retail security has gone through many changes in recent times. As retailers were backed into a corner and pushed to pivot, we watched behind the impeding television screen as many retailers made the decision to innovate and diversify their product offerings, and the ways in which we collectively consumed and showed support for our favourite brands.

As the demand for online shopping increased, so too did the requirements for strengthened cyber security and retail security services. Masks and hand sanitiser became mandatory. Social distancing measures were introduced, and in the midst of the new norm we were all becoming accustomed to, brands were fighting to stay on top of the game.

Information, people, and properties were at stake. All cards were on the table and if you didn’t move fast, you didn’t move at all. It was now or never; innovate or shut shop. For many of us, it was a case of do or die

Just like the standing giants of those sustainable and steadfast retailers who chose to remain open through the worst of times, we chose to pivot. There was no other choice.

In 2020/21, there were approximately 1.9 million theft offences recorded by the police forces in England and Wales. The need for vigilance was stark. With terrorist threat levels on the increase and high prioritisation for the safety and well-being of both customers and employees alike, the world of retail security took on a whole new world of mandates. Threat detection and the ways in which we learned to recognise new threats changed overnight. Opportunist thieves who felt they could easily disguise their facial features stepped forward, and our undercover guards were on high alert.

Here, Professional Alert Security Guards share their tips and insights on how to navigate threat detection, adapt to industry changes, and maintain trustworthy and congruent client relationships.

Preventing Theft in a Masked World

A retail security guard operates primarily in the area of preventing theft and ensuring public safety. This is achieved through vigilance, observation, and trained information-gathering processes. All security guards must be fully vetted, and licensed according to the Security Industry Authority standards. Systems training in the form of CCTV and 24/7 surveillance is an essential aspect of training for threat detection and response protocols.

Plainclothes presence is very important.  With masked thieves, it can be harder to detect the identity of the individual/group, because you can’t see their face on CCTV. Therefore, learning to read body language is an important aspect of working in security. Being able to recognise unusual behaviour is paramount. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and having a visual presence in-store is often enough to deter theft, says Professional Alert Security Store Detective and Retail Security Expert.

“We hire guards who are pro-active, rather than reactive, guards who have a strong physical presence and are able to discern and recognise threats easily. As a store detective, asset protection, along with the safety and well-being of both staff and customers is my number one priority. Having a team of plain-clothed security guards who are trained to look out for suspicious characters enables us to see what a uniformed officer is unable to see”.

Adapting to Industry Changes

Learning to quickly adapt to changes in the industry has been essential to our ability to maintain harmonious client relationships. The Manchester Arndale Centre is one of the largest indoor shopping centres in the UK, and it attracts approximately 500,000 visitors each week.

Knowledge of the city, and the surroundings of an area we work in, is an important aspect of our recruitment process. If a guard doesn’t know the area, (s)he doesn’t know what to look out for, so local knowledge is very important to us. Today, CCTV training, knowledge of network systems, and body-cams are becoming more and more necessary to carry out our job with integrity.

For this reason, each individual business requires a comprehensive risk assessment to include all potential internal and external threats. Any possible scenarios and vulnerabilities are highlighted and from there, we are able to action a safe and secure management strategy for our clients.

Looking for a team of professional retail security guards for your next project?

With more than 16 years’ worth of experience in retail security services, Professional Alert Security Guards can be found across the UK. Call us today on 0161 277 7812 to learn how you can secure your business and protect your teams.