Security in a retail environment 2018

First, there was Nairobi in 2013, followed by the attacks in France on Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan concert hall, following which awareness of the issues spread like wildfire. The security of public spaces and, by extension, shopping centres and retail parks has become a major challenge for governments, retailers and shopping centre operators. How can the risks be minimised, what equipment needs to be put in place, and which strategies need to be implemented? These are just some of the questions that must be answered if public trust is to be retained.

 

which strategies need to be implemented?

In an interview reported by the Intelligence Economique portal, Rodolphe Proust, Director of Security at the Group, which runs 41 retail centres in France, explained that

“The sector has clearly become aware of the issues at hand. The National Retail Centre Council (CNCC) has also set up its own Security Panel, which we actively take part in. At Altarea Cogedim, a malicious incident at one of our centres – primarily a terrorist attack – is considered to be the most significant risk. Indeed, at a peak time such as during the sales or Christmas, a centre can welcome 400,000 people through its doors each day.”

 

The safety of shopping centers

Whereas shopping centres clearly have governance structures in place, with a single and identifiable person being responsible for health and safety as mandated by law, the same cannot be said about security issues. The topic is still being discussed at the highest levels of government. At the moment, security is mainly handled by outsourced service providers, from staffing through to technology, which implies a need for permanent supervision and for work to be done by the centre manager (either an individual or a management company) to raise awareness in a local context. E-learning training courses are the most frequent method of delivering this awareness to staff members, but they tend to serve more as a guide to best practice for each shopping centre, and as a result, they fall short of a consistent regulatory regime at a national level. Meanwhile, major players such as Alatrea Cogedim and Klepierre organise exercises to simulate terrorist attacks and other incidents to test their planned responses. The use of video surveillance systems remains challenging, because their adoption is frequently prevented by the need to protect individuals’ privacy and due to the prohibition on using video to monitor staff at work.

A risk taken into account

Nonetheless, the risks are taken into account and major retail management companies recruit experts from all over the world for their advice.

“We experienced 13 armed attacks in our shopping centres in 2016, out of a total of over ten thousand attacks in France, with tens of millions of people passing through our premises. Shopping centres are the safest public spaces, and we owe it to our customers to give them that level of confidence,”

said Jean-Marc Jestin, chairman of Klépierre to the financial newspaper, Les Echos in 2017. We should remember that 150,000 people work in security for French shopping centres, while, on average, security accounts for a budget of €2.5 million and 70 staff members for each centre.

While 100 pairs of eyes are better than one, it’s clear that technology has a role to play in helping people to make decisions in real time and prevent emergency situations from occurring.

 

To read also: IoT: must we choose between data and security?