Shopfront Morrisons cropped

Source: Alex Kapadia

The retailer installed the technology in January 2023

Independent retailer Alex Kapadia has achieved an almost complete reduction in theft at his Morrisons Daily store thanks to the installation of Facewatch last year.

Speaking at the National Convenience Show, Kapadia explained prior to Facewatch’s installation, the Northampton-based store was losing £100 a day from shoplifting.

“We switched from Nisa to Morrisons Daily in 2022, and because we look like a corporate store, all the local criminals must have thought it was fair game and that we won’t put up a fight,” said Kapadia. “Then of all of a sudden, we were getting crime from a weekly basis to every day. We had to do something.”

Since introducing Facewatch – which uses facial recognition technology to alert retailers when a repeat offender enters the premises – in January 2023, Kapadia said shop theft had dropped by nearly 90% at the store, creating “a safer environment for my staff”.

Kapadia, who also owns four other stores with Wine Rack and Bargain Booze, added that while alerts were sent to staff and managers on their phones, the store had also linked the alarm to a loud bluetooth speaker by the front door as an enhanced deterrent to prolific offenders.

“They were beginning to recognise the alert as a detection that they had walked through the door,” he said. “Now most of the offenders aren’t coming back at all.” 

Bassett Retail operations manager Dave Hiscutt, a fellow speaker at the NCS, also praised the technology for bringing down crime across three of its stores in Weymouth and Southampton by 70%.

“Most of it is down to the safety of our team,” said Hiscutt. “We were trying to prevent theft as well protect our staff from antisocial behaviour – we’ve even had staff being dragged across the floor. So we had to find a proactive way of dealing with it.

“I thought having an alert from Facewatch would cause more conflict, but it’s actually reversed that because it stops people at the door before they enter the premises and commit a crime.”

Facewatch data protection officer Dave Sumner, who also spoke at the show, explained: “We aim to prevent crime by telling you this criminal has just walked in. No offence has occurred yet, but we are providing you with that opportunity to prevent it from happening.”

The technology works by matching faces against Facewatch’s database of known offenders, which have been logged by retailers using the platform, as they enter the premises.

If there is a match, an alert is sent to the retailer instantly, giving them the opportunity to acknowledge their presence and decide on a course of action, such as asking them to leave or notifying police.

The alerts will also include markers such as if the offender has been recorded by an external retailer, and if they had previously used violence or weapons.

Images are only stored on the platform of known offenders, meaning if the database does not recognise a shopper, it is deleted immediately.