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Boots gives body cams to staff in 60 pharmacies after rise in abuse

Boots pharmacists and retail staff now wear body cams in more than 60 branches, as the multiple is concerned with the rise in “violence and abuse”, C+D can reveal.

Boots started trialling body worn video cameras at the beginning of 2021, initially across a small number of pharmacies in Birmingham, a spokesperson told C+D yesterday (July 20).

It later expanded the trial to branches in Sheffield and Rotherham, and currently has more than 60 pharmacies “where our team members wear body cams”, Boots told C+D.

The multiple said it is rolling this out to more branches.

“Like other retailers, we are concerned about the increasing problem of violence and abuse experienced by hundreds of thousands of retail workers, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson told C+D.

Staff wear body cams while on shift

Staff working at the branches who are trialling the body cams wear them while on their shift, the spokesperson continued.

“They turn the body cam on if they are experiencing a difficult interaction with a member of the public, who they inform of the body cam’s recording.

“Used in this way, we have found the body cams hugely successful in de-escalating issues as they arise and our team members say they feel safer and more confident when wearing them,” the spokesperson added.

Boots’ CCTV monitoring centre

Boots announced on June 22 that it had opened a CCTV monitoring centre at its headquarters in Beeston, Nottingham. The new facility has 18 screens and 20 staff to monitor and respond to incidents “in real time”.

The centre was opened by Boots CEO Seb James and Katy Bourne OBE, who is police and crime commissioner for Sussex and the national lead for Retail Crime and Police Technology and Digitalisation at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Mr James said: “Our team members have the right to work in a safe and respectful environment.”

Ms Bourne said that while pharmacy teams provide “an essential service and lifeline for millions of customers, they have suffered the stress of persistent shoplifters as well as verbal and physical abuse.”

If a Boots team member experiences an incident and they are wearing the body cam, Boots can match the body cam’s footage with the branch’s CCTV.

The footage collected in both ways helps Boots collaborate with the police to arrest and prosecute those who show violent behaviours towards staff, the Boots spokesperson told C+D.

The news comes as a pharmacist in Dudley last week (July 13) performed first aid on and "aggressive patient" when he had a seizure.

In April, staff in a pharmacy in Portadown, Northern Ireland, were threatened with a clawhammer during an armed robbery. In February, a pharmacist in Northern Ireland was physically assaulted for asking a customer to wear a face mask just one week after the announcement of new funds to boost pharmacies’ security.

As C+D reported in March 2020, pharmacies and pharmacy bodies have noted an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour by patients since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What security measures does your pharmacy have in place to protect staff?

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