Summary of the new BRC guidelines for retailers

The BRC has published new guidelines for retailers 'Tackling Violence Against Staff: Best Practice Guidelines for Retailers'. Below is a summary of the contents of the guidelines. 

The new guidelines complement the 2010 BRC and Skills for Security guidance for retail security functions 'Physical Intervention: Reducing Risk'. This guidance, endorsed by ACPO and the SIA, was the result of a national project chaired by Maybo's Bill Fox.

Why has the BRC published these guidelines?

The guidance starts by stating: “the most worrying trend [identified in the 2010/11 Annual Retail Crime Survey] was the increase in violence directed at retail staff. At least 35,313 staff had suffered physical or verbal attacks or threats.

"In areas where there is a greater fear of violence and intimidation, retailers report a greater turnover of staff and higher incidents of sickness/absence. Unfortunately many employees now appear to accept this abuse as ‘part of the job’.”

The stated aim of the guidelines is “to increase awareness of the impact that violence against staff has on retail employees and to challenge the perception that daily abuse is acceptable”.

What are the key messages in the guidelines?

The guidelines identify two “high level guiding principles":

  • "There should be clear policies and procedures relating to violence in the workplace. These should be well communicated to retail staff so that they understand that violence in the workplace will not be tolerated and understand how the organisation will support them from violent or abusive acts."
  • "Training retail staff in conflict management helps them to identify potentially violent or abusive situations and to develop the skills to stop them from escalating. Where practicable, training should be scaled according to the roles and responsibilities of individual employees.”

Risk assessments - guidelines and good practice

The guidelines emphasise the legal requirement for employers to carry out a violence risk assessment and lists five key components that must be included:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Consider who might be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  • Record the findings and implement them
  • Review the risk assessment and update it if necessary

Developing a policy - guidelines and good practice

  • Issue a statement that makes it clear that violence against staff will not be tolerated
  • Raises awareness of reporting procedures, training and support services available for employees, and how to access supporting mechanisms, for example occupational health, whistleblowing hotlines, victim support
  • Include a clear definition of what constitutes work-related violence
  • Risks should be regularly reviewed and processes/procedures amended accordingly

Working Environment - guidelines and good practice

  • Where possible ensure adequate visibility of the sales floor area
  • CCTV and other security equipment should be in good working order. In areas of heightened risk, panic buttons/cords can be installed
  • Good lighting inside and outside retail premises creates a more secure environment and improves visibility
  • Ensure that there is an effective process to ensure that cash in tills is kept reduced to an acceptable level and that all till operators are security awareness trained
  • Use signage to remove triggers for abuse, e.g. clearly stating refund policies and where applicable, under age sales policies

Prevention - guidelines and good practice

  • Plan staffing levels according to the risk profile and ensure that managers/supervisors are available during peak trading times to deal with any potentially violent or abusive incident
  • Employees should be aware of how to identify and diffuse situations that may lead to violence or abuse. Good practice is to ensure that all employees are trained in conflict management. This should be scaled according to the roles and responsibilities of each employee and should apply to all staff including home delivery drivers and security guards
  • Retail staff need to be aware of clear well documented policies and procedures on the efficient transfer of cash. Good practice is to reinforce staff awareness through regular staff training
  • Robust policies and regular training of staff ensures that retail staff with key holder responsibility and/or lone workers are aware of how to effectively prevent and respond to violence/abuse and the support networks available to them
  • Developing effective relationships with police and local crime reduction partnerships ensures that key areas of risk have been identified and effective solutions reached

Training - guidelines and good practice

  • Staff should have training which enables them to clearly identify and diffuse potential situations from escalating to violence or abuse. Good practice is to ensure that training is provided on induction and regularly updated/assessed. Different levels of training may be required depending on employee’s responsibilities and in areas assessed as being at higher risk
  • Good practice is to ensure training and communication with all staff in and out of store, including home delivery drivers and security guards
  • Training can be adapted to ensure that employees are aware of how to deal with specific triggers for violence/abuse for example, refusal of under-age sales
  • Specific policies and training help to ensure that staff expected to use intervention techniques do so safely. Good practice is to ensure that the use of intervention is restricted to those who have been specifically trained in intervention techniques

Reporting - guidelines and good practice

  • Employees should be aware of how to report incidents involving abuse or violence from colleagues within the workplace
  • Good practice is to gather as much evidence as possible from people who may have witnessed the offence taking place
  • Injuries connected with work activities, including those resulting from violence, may be reportable under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR)."

Post incident

  • Employees should be aware of what support is available to them following an incident for example, Victim Support, Occupational Health etc
  • Reassurance should be provided to employees who may also have been indirectly affected by the incident.
  • Following an incident the risk assessment procedures should be revisited, risk reassessed and any further control measures identified

Read the full publication

Get help interpreting the guidelines and ensuring best practice in your organisation


Posted by Maybo on May 15, 2012


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