Target, Woolworths staff to start wearing body cameras to tackle abusive customers

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Department stores across Australia, including Target and Woolworths, have started to take drastic action to tackle threats and abuse from raging customers.

Retail workers across Australia bearing the brunt of threats and abusive customers have started wearing body cameras in a bid to protect themselves.

Six department stores, including Target and Woolworths, have started testing the cameras in selected stores.

The protection worn by staff comes after a spike in abusive behavior towards retailers during the pandemic.

Signage at a Target store indicated how employees would wear safety equipment in an effort to “keep our team and our community safe.”

“These cameras will be worn by selected team members and turned on only in the event of an escalation where they believe there is a threat to their safety,” the sign reads.

“The cameras only capture video footage and the footage is only accessible to Target management and security teams, and, where appropriate, law enforcement.”

National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb told the ABC that body cameras were becoming more common among retailers.

“It’s mostly the big retailers that are implementing technologies like this, mainly because there’s obviously some cost involved,” Ms Lamb said.

“More and more what we are seeing is aggression towards retail workers…we know there has been a huge increase in the use of weapons in crime in retail and now it’s all about keeping retail workers safe.”

Last year, Woolworths introduced the cameras after muggings doubled in stores across Australia.

At the time, Woolworths stores manager Rob Moffat said there would be no audio and the films would be stored “safely” on Australian servers.

The company said only security experts and law enforcement, if any, would have access to the footage.

Members of the public will be notified when images are enabled.

“No one deserves to be abused at work, so it’s important that we look at new measures to keep our team members safe,” Moffat said.

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