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Staff feel safer wearing the body cameras, says Certas Energy

Certas Energy is introducing body cameras for staff at its company-owned forecourts as part of a series of initiatives this year to combat abuse against retail workers becoming a recognised part of the job.

A three month trial at four of its company-owned sites was welcomed by staff who said that they felt safer wearing the highly visible equipment, and that they believed customers were less likely to be violent against them at the thought of being filmed with it.

The company is planning to have rolled out these cameras at its 41 manned sites by the end of the summer. Its other 59 company-owned sites are unmanned Fuel Express outlets and will not be affected.

The idea is that two staff will wear the equipment at any time. When an incident starts to escalate staff will be advised to start recording, and then the footage will be saved and could be used in reporting crime to police, or to inform further staff protection initiatives at Certas Energy.

“We can’t say conclusively that we have seen a reduction in incidents from the cameras as it is such a small data set, but we have received positive feedback from staff who feel safer wearing them, benefiting their welfare and mental health,” says Gareth Payne, head of HSE and engineering – Roadside Services at Certas Energy.

“We know that staff like having cameras in store as a form of protection and we want to help them be as comfortable as we can doing their work,” says Payne. “Staff in the trial felt anecdotally too that there was a reduction in anti-social behaviour towards them, and there is lots of academic research and case studies which backs this up,” says Payne.

This feedback provided enough evidence for the company to make a significant investment in the equipment and to commit to an ongoing annual fee with supplier Reveal. Payne says that although CCTV is fitted at all Certas sites, personal cameras are a more visible deterrent for potential crimes.

The business is also developing an in-store poster campaign urging customers to be positive to its staff. It will be a similar approach to the ShopKind initiative promoted by The National Business Crime Centre (NBCC).

Certas Energy has also introduced an in-store training manual, providing its 360-strong retail staff techniques for dealing with violence and aggression, and “empowering them to take ownership of their personal safety on site”.

Copies of its Pro-Activ8 eight step personal safety plan have been circulated to all of its company sites, with staff signing off that they have understood its procedures, from maintaining site security to taking a step back to avoid danger or to de-escalate a situation.

The initiatives are part of an ambition for “zero harm in the workplace” at Certas Energy, which also includes the routine review of lone working risk assessments for retail workers. This has led to the implementation of lone workers checking in with other sites across the estate during their shift. 

Certas crime camera story

Certas Energy is rolling out staff body cameras at its 41 manned forecourts

Payne says that while incident levels dropped during Covid, they are returning to pre-pandemic levels and the severity of anti-social behaviour appears to be increasing.

“Mainly anecdotally, staff and managers feel that incidents are getting more severe and that the degree of escalation has become worse,” says Payne.

“We are having a number of incidents per week, not necessarily violence, but certainly anti-social behaviour towards staff.”

“What is frustrating to me is that when we first went out to talk to staff about the cameras there was an overwhelming feeling that dealing with these incidents is part of the job. This is not just at Certas, or just in forecourts, it is a retail wide problem. It is not okay, we will not accept it as being part of the job at Certas and we will look to doing all we can to support our colleagues.”