The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Tackling Knife Crime And Saving Lives

22 January 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

The use of knives and weapons in retail outlet crime has always been a chief concern and a major challenge for security operators and our retail customers, writes Chris Kenneally, head of an FM and security firm.

Deciding on the right course of action is not straight forward as on the one hand the perpetrators need to see that there is zero tolerance for such violent behaviour but on the other hand our first priority is to protect lives: of our staff, the general public and our customers.

The pressure to deal with this problem is becoming more prevalent. In recent weeks, we’ve seen an escalation of reports of knife crime from our retail security staff. Sadly knife crime is on the up. Indeed, the Office for National Statistics reported a two percent rise in all knife crime offences in the 12 months to March 2015. The increase to 26,370 offences was announced ahead of a new 'two strikes and you’re out' mandatory prison sentence for repeated possession of a knife or blade in July 2015.

 Despite the introduction of this new mandatory prison sentence, we have received four serious incident reports from our security staff within the space of just two weeks in October. Although the lead up to Christmas generally sees more crime due to pressures of the season on impoverished families and those with addictions, this is still an early start in the year for such an escalation in serious crime.


So what can we do to alleviate this situation?

The true answer to this is to work as a united team with the Police. While it’s completely understandable that retail and security staff will want to tackle criminals with knives, after all the knife-holder could go somewhere else, hurt someone else and commit more crimes, this is not the correct approach. At Cordant we have a policy outlining that the right path is to work with the police so that they can safely apprehend the criminal, we do not encourage our staff to be heroic in situations where their own safety is at risk.



Our training programme and a booklet that all of our security officers are issued with called 'Golden Rules' reinforces this stance.  This booklet contains guidance about assessing risk, calling for assistance and reporting to our control rooms.

 By following this guidance, we aim to help our teams make sound judgement calls and to help the Police apprehend criminals. Many of the sites where our teams operate have good CCTV and back-up technology at their disposal. These tools also help speed up the process of arresting criminals.

 Our retail customers also tend to provide the same guidance to their personnel and accept that there will be times when employees may be tempted to take the situation into their own hands. For example when someone is obviously stealing, you don’t always know when they are also concealing a weapon and very often staff are thrown in at the deep end in these situations and their first instinct is to protect customers. While we are grateful to them for doing a great job, we stress that it is not worth them risking their own life for the sake of arresting a criminal with a knife. We urge our staff to let the Police do their job.


Working with the police

At Cordant we work very closely with the Police to make sure that we report the information and details needed to apprehend a weapon holder. The dangers for staff working at the frontline are very real. We have reports of violent incidences like a shoplifter pulling out a machete when questioned about not paying for two bottles of vodka and another incident where a man wearing a fake Police outfit pointed a gun at a retail manager. In these instances staff sometimes want to tackle the situation themselves but we strongly advise our employees to stick to the Golden Rules.

The Police are facing cuts and there are often not as many officers on the ground as there used to be and this is why our reporting has to contain the relevant details and images to help the Police in their jobs.

Our Security officers provide crucial help to our police forces. They are really like an extension to the team but their role in apprehending criminals is not about endangering their own life. Police officers are trained and carry the tools to handle these situations.  Our Security officers can apprehend criminals when it is safe to do so but when it isn’t, the best thing that they can do is get as much descriptive information as quickly as possible so that the police can make a speedy arrest and keep people safe. 

In conclusion, it is important that the security and retail industry work in partnership with the Police to prevent crime. It’s important to share information about for example, effective signage deterrents, new technology and general trends that we observe. While it would be unrealistic to expect knife crime to be completely eliminated, it’s vital that we jointly send out a clear message that criminals will be caught and prosecuted. It’s only by working together and clearly understanding our roles that we can tackle the problem head-on.

Picture: Chris Kenneally, CEO Cordant Group Plc

Article written by Chris Kenneally | Published 22 January 2016


Related Tags

Related Articles

Plastic Free July – What's Covent Garden Doing?

In a quest for a more sustainable London this Plastic Free July, Covent Garden is making inspiring changes within its facilities. Brands including Aesop, DECIEM,...

 Read Full Article
ABM Wins FM Contract at Angel Central Shopping Centre, Islington

ABM has been appointed by commercial real estate consultants Lambert Smith Hampton for facilities management services at its Angel Central Shopping Centre...

 Read Full Article
Reconomy Group Acquires ReBOUND

Reconomy has acquired ReBOUND, the technology platform helping brands such as ASOS, Gymshark and Sweaty Betty manage their returns sustainably. ReBOUND will...

 Read Full Article
Industrial and Logistics Property in High Demand

The number of logistics and industrial property leasing deals was 70 per cent higher than usual in Q1 of this year. New data from Cushman & Wakefield suggests that...

 Read Full Article
Co-Op Collaborates With Mitie to Provide Forensic Spray for Staff

Co-op is the first major supermarket to see security guards equipped with a new forensic spray, designed to deter attacks on frontline shopworkers and curb rising levels...

 Read Full Article
British Land to use SAAS Solution Throughout Retail Portfolio

PlanRadar has announced a new partnership with British Land, one of the UK’s largest property development and investment companies. From May 2021,...

 Read Full Article
Scoop to Futureproof Retail for a Post-Pandemic Future

One of the UK’s leading asset managers has appointed POD Architects to "future-proof" the Thistles Shopping Centre in Stirling. At a time when retail...

 Read Full Article
Four Ways Robots are Helping to Address Facilities Management Challenges

Amidst a myriad of safety concerns and government guidelines, facilities managers have turned to new methods and technologies to ensure better hygiene and to keep...

 Read Full Article
Linakar Awarded Multi-Million Pound Liverpool ONE Deal

M&E specialist Linaker has won a contract to manage the planned preventative maintenance and reactive works for Liverpool ONE shopping centre. The multi-million...

 Read Full Article
Retail Space Designer Launches Workplace Design Division

“Return to work safe, in a beautiful space,” is the message being put forward by HUMAN by Quadrant Design. With 20+ years of experience designing...

 Read Full Article