Intelligence-based security has the potential to slash retailers’ losses to crime and contribute to safer shopping environments – ultimately reversing the downward spiral of the high street.

This the view of Alan Blake, commercial director at Secom, where a mix of sophisticated electronic surveillance and intelligence analysis is already producing significant savings for a major retailer and helping police to bring criminals to book.

He says this solution is easily scaled up to serve other retailers, shopping centres and even high streets.

Responding to a British Retail Consortium report that crime and prevention cost the retail sector £1.9 billion a year – 20% of annual profits, Alan Blake says: “This is clearly another reason why so many retailers have financial problems and why our high streets are under such pressure. If retailers are spending a lot on crime prevention but are still experiencing big losses, there’s something very wrong in the services they are using.”



The BRC’s annual Retail Crime Survey found that 70% of respondents were dissatisfied with police response to retail crime and also reported growing concerns about knife crime amid 115 daily reports of assaults on employees.

BRC says the cost of crime rose by 12% in the past financial year, while losses from customer theft rose by 31% to £700 million.

Alan Blake says: “The problem for many retailers is that their CCTV systems are not used intelligently and consequently don’t solve the real problems of crime. Worse still, police don’t have the resources to deal with shoplifting cases involving less than £200.”

Working in partnership with the Co-op over the past few years, Secom has taken retail sector security to a new level, turning the tide on criminal activity.

“In the past 12 months we have produced detailed reports on 1,229 criminal incidents. This has so far enabled police to arrest 92 multiple offenders and secure a 100% prosecution rate. On average, it would take an employee 90 minutes to report a crime, and a police officer would need 80 minutes to process it. So over the past year Secom has saved 1,843 hours of Co-op time and 1,638 hours of police time,” says Alan Blake.

Better reporting, including greater use of in-store incident support buttons, has led to an apparent increase in potential and actual incidents of all types. However, the number incidents prevented has increased at a similar rate. Recognition of repeat offenders is increasing dramatically, adding to the intelligence being gathered at Secom for future use as evidence

Analysis of criminal activity enabled Co-op to reduce dependence on manned guards across its estate. Guards are now only deployed to locations – and at times – of higher risk, freeing investment to cover other sites with enhanced systems.

Alan Blake says: “In our view, intelligence-led security can make shops – even in ‘difficult‘ areas – safer for staff and customers. And that must be good for business.”

Retail Intelligence in action