Body Cameras Myths Busted
Body Cameras Myths Busted

Retail Security and Body Cameras: Myths Debunked and Benefits Explained

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The level of violent and abusive incidents against retail staff has skyrocketed over the past couple of years. Shocking in-store statistics have required companies to rethink how they protect their staff and find new ways to de-escalate abusive, and sometimes violent, situations without resorting to a permanent law enforcement or security presence.

In an effort to contain confrontational scenes, body-worn cameras have become more popular as a tool to improve overall safety and security. However, the presence of these small, front-facing cameras worn on employee store uniforms has caused concern and inevitably there are misunderstandings.

10 Body Camera Myths Busted!

Myth 1: Body-worn cameras are there to monitor employees and track their movements.

Fact: Body-worn cameras are designed primarily to enhance safety and security in the retail environment. Body cameras are equipped with a simple on/off switch, which is only activated by the wearer when they feel they need to record a situation and it remains switched off until that time. The footage may be used to investigate incidents further but, it’s important to remember, that the cameras are there to keep employees safe and help to de-escalate tense situations.

By recording incidents of customer aggression or harassment, staff can take steps to create a safer working environment for themselves and their colleagues.

Myth 2: The camera battery won’t last a full shift and will need to be swapped out for a new one multiple times during each shift.

Fact: The Calla body camera has a recording battery life of up to 2 hours if recording at 480p or 1.5 hours if recording at 720p. It only starts using its battery once it’s activated by the user. This means that the battery life is conserved until an incident needs to be captured and recording starts. When the situation has de-escalated or been resolved, recording can stop, and the camera returned to ‘off’ status. In this state, the battery will last for months.

Myth 3: The cameras are always on and always recording.

Fact: When a body camera is issued to a retail worker at the start of their shift, it is set to ‘off’. There is no live feed, and the camera is unable to record anything at this point.

Only the wearer can activate recording by manually sliding the red switch, after turning the camera on, when they want it to record an incident. Each body camera is controlled by the person wearing it and it can’t be remotely activated.

This means that the wearer has full control and makes the decision over what and when the camera records. The purpose of the body camera is not to monitor or track employees but to provide them with a tool to enhance their safety and security in the workplace.

Myth 4: Body cameras are there for asset protection instead of supporting employee welfare.

Fact: While asset protection is certainly an important issue for retailers it’s not the only reason for using a body camera. The safety and security of employees is a top priority. By recording incidents of customer aggression or abuse, employees can take steps to create a safe environment for themselves, their colleagues, and the majority of other law-abiding customers.

In 2021, several major companies, including Boots and Marks & Spencer, had to close stores in London due to an escalation in retail crime and safety concerns. As retail crime and abusive behaviour continue to rise throughout the UK, many retailers are investing in body-worn cameras to protect their employees and their customers.

Investing in additional staff, security, replacing stolen stock and repairing premises all come at a high cost; one that all too often makes business unviable. By using body cameras responsibly, retailers can improve the overall safety and security of their stores and provide a more welcoming environment to work and shop in.

Myth 5: Body-worn cameras in retail stores are an invasion of privacy

Fact: Retail store employees who wear body-worn cameras do so in full view of customers and colleagues. The camera remains turned off until the wearer announces that they will be turning it on due to specific actions or increasingly anti-social behaviour.

When it is switched off, the front-facing camera doesn’t function, and nothing is recorded.

When it’s switched on, the front-facing camera shows the customer exactly what it’s recording. As soon as the situation is calmed, there is no need for the camera to remain on and the employee can turn it off.

The body camera is there as a tool to improve everyone’s safety and accurately capture events as they happen. It is not for mass surveillance.

Myth 6: Data collected by body-worn cameras is not secure

Fact: The footage that is recorded by the body camera is completely secure and stored remotely. If a camera is stolen, it’s immediately rendered useless. The camera itself doesn’t store anything locally, and there isn’t any information on the camera that can be reviewed. Anything recorded by the bodycam is AES 256-bit encrypted (a specification of encryption established by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology) and only accessed by authorised personnel via DEMS 360 (Reveal’s digital evidence management software). By following best practices for data security and privacy, retailers can ensure that their use of body cameras is both effective and responsible.

Myth 7: Body-worn cameras are used to monitor and control employee’s behaviour.

Fact: The body camera can only be switched on or off by the employee wearing it. The camera can’t track your location and it can’t be switched on remotely. This means that retail assistants are in full control of when and where they switch their camera on.

If a retail worker chooses not to switch on their camera, it can’t record anything. This means that their own privacy is protected when they need to talk to colleagues and take food or rest breaks away from the shop floor.

The purpose of the body camera is not to monitor or control employees’ behaviour but to provide a tool to help them feel more confident, safer, and empowered to de-escalate tense situations

Myth 8: Body-worn cameras create an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust between customers and store employees.

Fact: Everyone wants to be able to shop in a safe, enjoyable environment with happy, helpful, and knowledgeable staff. The body camera allows store staff to reassure customers that abusive and threatening behaviour won’t be tolerated. Customers feel safer knowing that a body camera can be switched on by an employee to record an incident that they may have concerns about.

Body cameras can help to build trust between customers and store employees by ensuring that there is an accurate account of their interactions.

Myth 9: Money used to purchase and roll-out body cameras could be better spent on other areas of the retailer’s business.

Fact: Businesses are faced with some harsh choices. Stores that are unable to tackle the rising costs of crime have to lay off staff and close, impacting the local economy and unemployment figures. A store that gives their employees body cameras has an advantage over one that doesn’t. Paying for private security arrangements can be costly, whereas body cameras worn by retail staff offer an alternative and cost-effective de-escalation solution.

Myth 10: Body-worn cameras don’t record audio and can’t be used in a court of law.

Fact: All Reveal body cameras are capable of capturing both video and audio recordings. This creates a complete and accurate account of an exchange between the wearer and other individuals involved.

The recorded video and audio files can be used by authorised personnel and law enforcement agencies for legal purposes and can be used as evidence in a court of law. Body camera evidence can routinely help prosecute individuals who have broken the law and help deter retail crime. This gives retail workers the confidence that aggressive and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and that their safety is paramount.