Retail staff wear body cameras to counter abuse, threats from customers

Retail staff at six major department stores across Australia have started wearing body cameras in a bid to reduce threatening and abusive behavior from customers.

Target Australia is trialling the staff-worn cameras in the selected stores, including at Buranda in Brisbane, as a way of deterring threatening situations.

It comes after an increase in threats to staff across the industry during the pandemic.

A sign at the Buranda Target store explained that selected staff members would wear the cameras as part of a safety trial “looking for better ways to keep our team and community safe”.

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

An image showing a red sign on a white wall explaining the decision for staff to trial wearing body cameras
A sign at the Target store in Buranda warns customers that staff are trialling the use of body-worn cameras to prevent abusive behavior.(ABC News: Michael Rennie)

“The cameras capture video recordings only and the footage is only accessible by Target leadership and security teams, and where appropriate law enforcement agencies.”

National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said staff wearing body-worn cameras was becoming more common.

A woman wearing a white jacket.A woman wearing a white jacket.
Dominique Lamb, chief executive of the National Retail Association. (ABC News)

She said throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there had been spikes in retail crime, aggression and abuse towards retail workers.

“Predominantly, it is major retailers that are implementing technologies like this, mainly because obviously there’s a certain amount of cost involved,” Ms Lamb said.

“But we are aware of CCTV cameras being put in in small businesses, we know there’s a whole raft of other deterrents being employed, you know groups of retailers getting together to kind of pitch in for security in certain circumstances.

“More and more, what we’re seeing is aggression towards retail workers … we know there has been quite a spike around the use of weapons in retail crime and now it’s very much about keeping retail workers safe.”

Ms Lamb said there was no excuse as to why anyone should face this kind of behavior.

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