Target staffers start wearing bodycams to prevent customer abuse

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Target has confirmed that staff members will begin wearing body cameras in a bid to reduce customer abuse in stores.

Select employees in six key Target stores will be trialling the new technology, which was introduced following a post-Covid increase in customer abuse and crime in stores.

Tim Kemp, Target’s General Manager of Store Operations and Supply Chain, announced in a statement that the trial is focused on customer and team safety, which is Target’s “number one priority”.

Target sign explaining that some staffers are wearing cameras
A sign recently spotted at the entry of the Buranda Target store in Brisbane explains to customers that the body cameras are intended to "reduce abusive and threatening behaviour towards our team". Source: Michael Rennie via ABC News

“Across the retail industry the number of threatening situations team members experience has considerably increased since Covid and we are doing everything we can to prevent these in our stores,” Mr Kemp said.

“Like many other major retailers, we are currently conducting a small trial of team member safety cameras in six Target stores nationally as a way of deterring threatening situations.”

Target team members are also receiving extensive training on how to manage dangerous situations in store.

Woolworths also undertook a body camera trial in several Aussie stores last year, with the Supermarket’s director of stores Rob Moffat stating: “nobody deserves to be abused at work, so it’s important we look at new measures to help keep our team members safe."

Target store exterior in a shopping mall
The trial is expected to deter abuse towards team members. Source: Getty Images

Privacy concerns

Mr Kemp also confirmed that the cameras will not be consistently recording, and have the ability to be activated by team members if presented with a threatening situation.

“These cameras do not record audio and any footage recorded will only be accessible by a small team within Target and may be provided to law enforcement agencies where permitted by law,” he said.

“In line with our privacy policy, we are committed to being responsible custodians of the data we hold and protecting the privacy of team members and customers.”

Retail union weighs in on bodycam trial

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) has confirmed with Yahoo News that Target’s body camera trial is coming along smoothly.

"The SDA has received no negative feedback from members as the trials have progressed,” a spokesperson said.

"It is important to note that employees are in control of the operation of the cameras.

"If anything, the feedback from members is that the body cams are have an effect in moderating anti-social behaviour by customers."

A report by the SDA found that 85 per cent of retail staff members suffered a form of abuse in the past 12 months, which incidents ranging from verbal, physical and sexual in nature.

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