Retailers should prepare beyond body cameras to monitor shop incidents

Interest in using body cameras to record in-store incidents is on the rise, but this evidence alone may not present the situation as clearly as possible, according to the co-director of a leading transcription provider.

Assaults towards industry workers have nearly doubled when compared to pre-pandemic levels, and major supermarket chains are equipping staff with cameras to combat both an increase in violence and shoplifting.

With Lidl announcing a £2 million investment into the equipment for workers across its 960 UK stores, Christine Vaughan of Apple Transcription is urging retailers to reinforce this measure by producing a written account if an incident takes place.

The company has extensive experience of relaying police and security personnel’s bodycam footage to capture criminal events, and Christine stresses how this evidence helps strengthen a case.

She said: “All our transcripts can be used as admissible evidence in a court of law, and from working on police recordings, we have a wealth of experience dealing with live footage at the crime scene, as well as interviews in the aftermath.

“It is more unpredictable than other audio-visual material, as it often involves fast-paced incidents with a lot going on at once, making it hard to decipher words and attribute them to the right subject.

“By transcribing, we can home in on voices to make sure words are assigned to the correct speaker, creating a coherent account of the event.”

In addition, Christine is calling for retailers implementing these measures to prepare its workers ahead of time, so they are aware of obstacles as well as ensuring evidence produced is as strong as possible.

She explains: “From our experience, having footage from different perspectives will help paint a fuller picture of the scenario. If part of the event is obstructed from one angle, having another lens can help fill in these gaps.

“Lidl may be promising to bring bodycams to each of its stores by spring 2024, but it will not be a requirement for every staff member to wear one.

“Only using a limited number of cameras for employees may impact the detail of the transcription, putting the case at a disadvantage.

“It’s also vital for staff to regularly check equipment is not obscured for the best chance of picking up non-verbal actions. For example, if a subject says: ‘They approached me like this’, it will be important for us to see what they signal.

“In addition, we can provide a written account for use beyond the courtroom. After the incident, it may be useful to have this for training purposes, which will help staff to identify red flags and consider the best approach in high-risk situations.”

Apple Transcription handles data for bodycam footage securely through a cloud-based system, which is reviewed frequently.

For more than a decade, the company has retained its International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 9001 Quality and 27001 Data Security certifications, in addition to its Cyber Essentials accreditation.

To find out more on handling bodycam footage transcription, contact the Apple Transcription team here.