Opinion piece and case study by Critical Control Helpdesk (CCHD).

February 2021 statistics released by ONS show knife crime is at epidemic levels across the country. Whilst crime rates have seen an overall reduction due to the pandemic, knife crime was one of few figures which significantly increased. Reports of knife crime were at a record high before the first lockdown in March 2020 and many industry experts are fearing offences could “erupt” as restrictions are lifted due to a combination of unemployment and lengthy school closures.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time in recent years we’ve seen a surge in knife-related incidents. In 2018, offences involving sharp weapons and knives were up 6% on the year before, whilst overall crime pointed to no significant change.

During this last peak in knife offences, Expeditious Services was offered a unique opportunity working alongside a telecommunications retail client in London that was facing a set of extreme challenges. The telecom client in question was repeatedly targeted by organised criminal gangs, who would plan to attack a particular store and enter in small groups to commit robbery at knifepoint. Sometimes the criminals would threaten staff with violence to meet their demands, which often involved stealing the latest high-value technology. Not only were the telecommunications client suffering asset losses, but the staff were hugely vulnerable.

As soon as Expeditious was approached for assistance, we rapidly organised a strategic response and deployed a specially selected team of officers to secure a number of the client’s stores. Our most experienced door supervisor (DS) licenced officers were deployed during daytime trading hours. Their objective was to help optimise the stores’ protection, decrease the likelihood of repeat attacks, deter any future plans and help coordinate a police response where required.

Our strategic response was a huge success. Expeditious Service’s CCHD (Critical Control Helpdesk) organised and managed the operation throughout and ensured that we presented a consistently strong visible deterrent in all stores. The resulting impact was a near-immediate decrease in incidents which led to the gangs moving away from targeting the client’s stores altogether. CCHD ensured all officers were smartly dressed, and well presented in line with the client’s standards.

Our security teams worked in close collaboration with the stores and CCHD and were in continual communication to support a reduction in general theft as well as the issue of the organised criminals and violent attacks. Expeditious Services and the CCHD team made such an impression handling this incident that we continue to work with the client on a number of stores that remain high risk when open to the public. If knife crime does increase as expected after COVID restrictions are relaxed, the team are ready to up-man and manage this as successfully as before.

Our advice to clients who are concerned about knife crime or violent attacks impacting their business and the increased risk to their assets and teams:

  • Prevention is the best form of attack, so do risk assessments and put plans in place early
  • Be mindful of groups entering your premises
  • Remain vigilant for concealed objects and suspicious behaviour
  • Remain calm and call the police if you feel threatened
  • Discuss any concerns with our friendly and professional team

If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in our Commercial Director’s thoughts on retail reopening and extended opening hours.