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Robbery protection and prevention for businesses

This information is intended to help small retailers reduce the risk of robbery at their premises and, where robberies do occur, to minimise the impact on staff and customers.

Robbery is a term that is commonly misused or not properly understood.

Under The Theft Act 1968:

"A person is guilty of robbery if he/she: Steals and immediately before or; At the time of doing so, and in order to do so, uses force on any person, or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force. Section 8 (1) of the Theft Act 1968."

For an offence to be categorised as a robbery, a person must have been subject to force or the threat of force.

Because retail premises are classed as a 'work place' there is a requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to provide a risk assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to establish and tackle the risk of violence to your staff. These pages will help you identify relevant tools that can assist in developing a risk assessment for your premises.

Fortunately, robbery against retailers is relatively rare. However, when it does occur it can have a significant impact, especially on small businesses.

Robbery can affect staff and customers through physical and psychological injury. Furthermore, the financial cost can be substantial due to: premises being closed for the investigation of the offence; staff on long term sick leave requiring the recruitment of temporary staff; damage caused by the offenders and the loss in stock or cash.

A concern of many retailers is that the introduction of any security system is going to be expensive. Whilst it is true that there may need to be an investment in security equipment, having good, well thought out and robust security policies and procedures in place is a very effective and achievable starting point.

This page will enable you to identify areas where, perhaps, your premises and staff are vulnerable to the risk of robbery. Once you have identified the areas of risk these pages also contain recommendations for reducing that risk.

Good security normally comprises a number of factors;

  • A risk assessment based on fact.
  • Effective security policies and procedures to reduce the risk.
  • Appropriate security equipment commensurate with the identified risk.
  • Efficient, courteous, well trained staff.

We’ve produced a factsheet with further details - retail robbery and what you can do about it