Two female employees manning stores on their own, became targets to two separate violent robberies in Lanarkshire, UK, just a fortnight apart.

The first of the attacks occurred when the worker was closing up at night. The two men stormed into the store armed with a metal bar and wearing masks. The pair took off with £7000 cash but not before threatening the woman, telling her at one point “This bar is going round your head.”

The victim was left traumatized following the attack and suffers flashbacks, panic attacks and sleeplessness as a result. She has since left her job at the store and refuses to go back to the area.

The second raid happened when the two men ran into a store being manned by a lone worker, demanding money from the safe. The men left with £1000 in cash again leaving the victim traumatized and missing a month of work as a result.

James McDowell and Robert Donnelly admitted to the two assaults and robberies in court and are now facing time in prison for the attacks.

An upward trend

Latest figures from the British Retail Consortium and The Usdaw Union for shopworkers, show that incidents of violence and abuse against shopworkers are the highest in a decade.

The statistics show that nearly two thirds of shopworkers were verbally abused in 2017 and 40% were threatened. With lone working in the retail industry becoming increasingly widespread, fear is also increasing

Whether facing verbal and physical or even the fear of becoming victim to either, can have a detrimental effect on the victim’s mental and physical health. Individuals have reported issues such as loss of concentration, poor memory, fatigue, anxiety and PTSD as a result.

How can shopworkers be protected?

Risk assessments are fundamental in deciding whether lone working in safe in the given environment. If a shop is prone to robberies or there have been other attacks in the past, they could be a clear indication that lone working is not safe and should not be permitted.

If you do decide that lone working is suitable for your business, there are some processes you could consider to ensure the safety of those working alone;

  • Training on dealing with conflict
  • A clear emergency communication process
  • A safe space to run to in a serious incident
  • Lone worker monitoring and panic systems

Personal safety apps and devices like StaySafe, provide employees who work alone, with a reliable way to signal for help if their personal safety is under threat.

The StaySafe app is complete with a range of functionality which allows a user to signal for help, regardless of their circumstances at the time. The Duress Alarm is ideal for high-risk retail workers and permits an employee in danger to discreetly send the alert, so that a monitor will be notified that the user is being forced to end a session and take action.

The app can also be linked via Bluetooth to a small wearable button that workers can clip to their clothing and use to signal for help.

For more information, contact our team. 

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