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Boots gives body cams to staff in 60 pharmacies after rise in abuse

Body cams were trialled across a small group of pharmacies in Birmingham at the beginning of 2021
Body cams were trialled across a small group of pharmacies in Birmingham at the beginning of 2021

Boots pharmacists and retail staff now wear body cams in more than 60 branches, as the multiple is concerned with the rise in “violence and abuse”, C+D can reveal.

Boots started trialling body worn video cameras at the beginning of 2021, initially across a small number of pharmacies in Birmingham, a spokesperson told C+D yesterday (July 20).

It later expanded the trial to branches in Sheffield and Rotherham, and currently has more than 60 pharmacies “where our team members wear body cams”, Boots told C+D.

The multiple said it is rolling this out to more branches.

“Like other retailers, we are concerned about the increasing problem of violence and abuse experienced by hundreds of thousands of retail workers, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson told C+D.

Staff wear body cams while on shift

Staff working at the branches who are trialling the body cams wear them while on their shift, the spokesperson continued.

“They turn the body cam on if they are experiencing a difficult interaction with a member of the public, who they inform of the body cam’s recording.

“Used in this way, we have found the body cams hugely successful in de-escalating issues as they arise and our team members say they feel safer and more confident when wearing them,” the spokesperson added.

Boots’ CCTV monitoring centre

Boots announced on June 22 that it had opened a CCTV monitoring centre at its headquarters in Beeston, Nottingham. The new facility has 18 screens and 20 staff to monitor and respond to incidents “in real time”.

The centre was opened by Boots CEO Seb James and Katy Bourne OBE, who is police and crime commissioner for Sussex and the national lead for Retail Crime and Police Technology and Digitalisation at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Mr James said: “Our team members have the right to work in a safe and respectful environment.”

Ms Bourne said that while pharmacy teams provide “an essential service and lifeline for millions of customers, they have suffered the stress of persistent shoplifters as well as verbal and physical abuse.”

If a Boots team member experiences an incident and they are wearing the body cam, Boots can match the body cam’s footage with the branch’s CCTV.

The footage collected in both ways helps Boots collaborate with the police to arrest and prosecute those who show violent behaviours towards staff, the Boots spokesperson told C+D.

The news comes as a pharmacist in Dudley last week (July 13) performed first aid on and "aggressive patient" when he had a seizure.

In April, staff in a pharmacy in Portadown, Northern Ireland, were threatened with a clawhammer during an armed robbery. In February, a pharmacist in Northern Ireland was physically assaulted for asking a customer to wear a face mask just one week after the announcement of new funds to boost pharmacies’ security.

As C+D reported in March 2020, pharmacies and pharmacy bodies have noted an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour by patients since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What security measures does your pharmacy have in place to protect staff?

C A, Community pharmacist

Is this code for Boots are spending less on in-store security guards ? [due to Government cuts]

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

It never used to be all started round about the time pharmacy teams started scrambling for eps/rds sign ups promising heaven and earth to anyone willing to sign up. Not to mention murs my third  least favourite word behind brexit and corona... I've always suspected it was a race to the bottom and here we are

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Most of the time, the customer is not just wrong but wrong enough to moronic. Individuals identified as abusing pharmacy staff should be banned nationally from ALL pharmacies, either permanently or for a period of time. The only way to educate these neanderthals is to exclude them. We do it with badly behaved drug addicts, why not extend that to Joe Public? They'll soon catch on that they need to behave. And if they don't, there's Pharmacy2U. Don't know what they'll do for their urgent antibiotics, though. Truthfully, don't really care

Getting Shorter, Community pharmacist

Many years ago, I was surprised (or not?!) to discover from the PCT where I was working that there is a list of patients considered to abusive/dangerous/violent to treat in surgeries, who have to be seen by a doctor in a police station.

Then they give them a script and send them off to their local pharmacy without a word...

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

If corporate owners ditched the mentality of "the customer is always right" and empowered their own staff to challenge and confront rude customers, it wouldn't have come to this. Customers feel extreme self-entitlement and the right to be petulant, aggressive, rude... , and management will always side with the said customer, and thus undermine staff morale . No wonder we find ourselves in this situation.

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Exactly right.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist


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