Woolworths set to introduce body cameras to stores

Body cameras could soon be a common sight at Woolworths supermarkets. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Body cameras could soon be a common sight at Woolworths supermarkets. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Woolworths NZ supermarket store managers across the country could soon be fitted with body cameras, it appears, as concern about in-store violence continues.

It is part of supermarket conglomerate Woolworths NZ’s plans to spend $45 million extra on security measures over the next three years, after major increases in staff being harmed and harassed.

Body cameras were trialled at 10 Woolworths NZ stores last year.

The Otago Daily Times approached Woolworths NZ, whose Countdown supermarkets are being rebranded Woolworths, for comment after witnessing a staff member in Dunedin wearing a body camera.

A Woolworths NZ spokeswoman did not comment on the camera seen, instead saying a further announcement about their plans would be made later this week.

"We have a number of safety and security measures in our stores including body-worn cameras, trolley-lock systems, push-to-talk radios and double-entry dates among others.

"Body cameras will only be turned on in the event of a security incident and footage will not be released except when requested by police as part of an investigation. Our team is also required to notify customers before recording."

First Union representative Angus Wilson said he would like to see more security staff working with the supermarket giant, but understood why such initiatives as body cameras needed to go ahead.

"This wouldn't be a small investment from the company. This is obviously a significant step for them."

Mr Wilson believed it would be rolled out across the country.

It was a step in the right direction, Mr Wilson said, even if "obviously we didn't want it to get to this point".

"I think we're seeing an increase in violent crime, as it gets a bit tougher and harder to survive, and people become more desperate.

"It’s good to ensure the staff on the floor are safe. If staff are going to get accosted then hopefully the cameras will keep them physically safe.

"I'm less interested in the goods on the shelf, and more about staff being in one

The May 10, 2021 stabbings of four people at the Dunedin Central store had led to a conversation between staff and management about the need for an increased safety measures, Mr Wilson said.

"It’s clear the conversation is ongoing.

"From my understanding it is going to begin with store managers and supervising teams being fitted out with body cameras, and it might be rolled out to other staff subsequently.

"Body cameras are a good step in the right direction."

Woolworths NZ is not the only supermarket giant considering ways to beef up its security. Foodstuffs has confirmed it was trialling facial-recognition technology across 25 of its stores in the North Island.