Co-op shoppers to see big changes affecting all stores this year

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Co-op shoppers to see big changes affecting all stores this year

Co-op supermarkets are getting new AI technology and 200 secure tills because crime reportedly has gone up by 44 percent. They had about 1,000 incidents happening every day in 2023, with workers even getting hurt.

The Co-op is putting in more than 200 safe till spots, locked places for expensive drinks, and smart cameras to watch checkouts on their own after a big jump in crime. They claimed they caught 3,361 people last year for doing things like stealing and being mean to staff.

Even though they spent £200million to make things safer, like having more guards and a special team for crime areas, they still had a lot more shoplifting.

Matt Hood, who’s in charge of the Co-op’s food shops, claimed: « This is not a few opportunistic shoplifters becoming more prolific. This is organised crime and looting. »

He also said that some shops deal with thieves jumping over the counter to take stuff like drinks, cigarettes, and lottery cards a few times a week.

He explained that stores were at risk of profit loss until new security measures, like reinforced till kiosks with secure doors, were put in place. Unlike other big chains, the Co-op doesn’t use facial recognition systems, he added.

He’s joined other top retail bosses in asking for a new specific crime of attacking a retail worker. This is because two out of five people caught by the chain’s guards still walk free as police don’t show up to the incident.

« People who are really organised can only be stopped by custodial sentences and the police. We need it to have consequences, » he said.

« The thing that worries me most is that we have colleagues who won’t report [incidents] as they know they won’t get a response.

« If you’ve caught someone committing a crime and the police don’t come, you have to let them go. You can imagine how demotivating that is for shop workers and how motivating [it is] for shoplifters. »

The Co-op has pointed out that when serious incidents are prioritised and there’s cooperation with the police, the problem can be solved.

Last year, forces such as Essex, Nottinghamshire and Sussex worked with Co-op to manage the arrest of 110 prolific offenders.

This led to a total of 30 years of prison sentences and another 60 years’ worth of criminal behaviour orders. Plus, 16 offenders received some form of rehabilitation order.

Mr Hood stated: « Unless these crimes become something police act on, this will continue. It has been proved in Scotland that if you make it a specific crime to attack a shopworker, incidents come down. We need that to happen in England. »

The Government rejected Labour’s proposed alteration to an ongoing criminal justice bill that would have made attacking retail workers a distinct crime carrying a one-year imprisonment or fine of up to £10,000.

Policing Minister Chris Philp disagreed with the move, indicating it may lead to issues around « equity between retail workers and other public-facing workers ».

Mr Hood noted early improvements from the Government’s retail crime plan published last October, which counts a police promise to prioritise violent shoplifting cases or situations where security personnel have detained a wrongdoer.

However, some are skeptical about Project Pegasus, that encourages 10 of the country’s largest stores, such as Marks & Spencer, Boots, and Primark, to share CCTV footage with the police who will use facial recognition tech to identify regular or dangerous individuals.

Experts suggest that self-checkouts and displaying expensive items on shelves instead of secure counters also add to the issue.

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