Shopping centres are large and busy public spaces that present complex security challenges. They commonly contain not just retail units, but also restaurants, cinemas, food outlets, and leisure facilities such as bowling alleys. At certain times of the year, these spaces are particularly popular and crowded.
This means that a well-planned and high quality security system is vital to keep these areas safe, and protect the public, staff, and contents from criminal and antisocial activity. Here are the main security issues faced by shopping centres.
One of the biggest security challenges for retail stores is shoplifting. Shoplifters have various motivations for their behaviour. In some cases, it may be driven by poverty, when people cannot cover their essential living expenses and feel driven to shoplift to meet basic needs such as food and clothing.
Sometimes, shoplifters are part of organised criminal gangs who deal in stolen goods. These types of criminals tend to focus on high-value items such as designer clothes, perfumes, and jewellery.
People can also shoplift out of peer pressure or thrill-seeking behaviour, particularly teenagers. Sometimes, psychological causes can be the driving factor, whether because the person finds shoplifting addictive or compulsive, or because they need to make cash to feed a drug or drink habit.
- Anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour can make shopping centres off-putting places to visit. It may include loitering, vandalism, or harassment of visitors on site or in car parks.
Stores with high-value inventories are natural targets for theft out of hours. This can include cases where the property is criminally damaged in order to gain access, or staff members who abuse their position of trust to steal or enable theft.
- Acts of terrorism
All public places are at risk of terrorist attack, and as such should take advice to ensure they have a robust security system and response plan in place.
- What are the best security solutions for shopping centres?
Security systems are a deterrent and help to bring offenders to justice. Most shopping centres will deploy a combination of measures, including in-person security guards, CCTV cameras, burglar alarms, and access control systems.
Closed-Circuit Television cameras are now highly sophisticated, and can provide high quality images from multiple angles in a range of lighting conditions. For larger areas, pan, tilt and zoom cameras are ideal. They can be operated remotely to cover different angles and have long range zoom capabilities.
Some CCTV cameras also have automatic movement tracking, to follow the position of the suspect throughout the premises. This feature is ideal to ensure effective retail security, particularly when placed in entrances, exits, carparks, and loading areas.
Burglar alarms are essential for after-hours security, as retail units are common targets for break-ins. Monitored systems that are linked to cameras and an alarm response centre are commonly deployed in large commercial areas.
Access control systems for the non-public areas of the shopping centre can help to prevent unauthorised access from intruders, or identify visitors or employees who may have a criminal agenda.
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