Sainsbury’s has been forced to introduce body surveillance cameras in certain stores to stop their staff being attacked at work.
The personal safety gadget is worn around employees’ necks and starts recording when a button is pressed by the person wearing it. It is understood they have been introduced in a ‘small number of stores’ and the latest to bring in the measures is a Sainsbury’s Local in Bedford Place, Southampton.
The devices look similar to an old cassette player but they do not record all the time and are only used to get evidence of serious or threatening behaviour, Sainsbury’s has confirmed. But many shoppers said they are a ‘invasive’ and didn’t like the idea of being recorded.
Sainsbury’s introduced listening devices in 2014 so staff members who were abused could record conversations as evidence of the incident.
The supermarket said they were used solely for security purposes and that the devices were triggered, on average, about 30 times a week after being used in 600 ‘Local’ branches.
In 2018, a man was recorded hurling racist abuse at staff in a London store, telling a security guard he ‘doesn’t belong here’.
The recent gadgets were introduced in the Southampton branch following a review of safety measures, while other local businesses called for better policing in the area.
A group of Southampton business chiefs wrote to Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner amid concerns over aggressive begging, staff feeling threatened and public drug use in the city.
Last summer, some shoppers noticed the recording devices creeping into their local stores.
A shopper said he had seen a member of checkout staff wearing one at a store in Norfolk.
He said on Twitter: ‘Not quite sure what I think about @sainsburys staff wearing audio and visual cameras around their neck.
‘It’s very invasive and makes them much less approachable.
‘I’m not entirely sure it’s the way forward. I sure as hell don’t want my conversations with checkout staff recorded.’
Another responded: ‘Extraordinary: are they really assaulted so often they need personal cams? Do we have rights to access their footage they record of you under GDPR?’
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: ‘We’ve recently introduced personal safety devices in our Bedford Place store.
‘The safety of our customers and colleagues is extremely important to us and we regularly review the security measures in our stores.’
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