Seek advice on preventing crime in your store – the consequences of not doing so are far-reaching, says Robert Ryan

Grocery retailers are failing staff if they don't do enough to prevent violence and abuse in the workplace.

The risk of armed robbery or alcohol-related violence is of particular concern to mini-supermarkets and c-stores that open late.

And the effect on the victim can be huge. I recently visited a small shop that had been robbed. To their credit the management had been quick to improve security and increase staffing after 5pm. But although they had offered the victim a counselling session, they were clearly unaware of the impact the ordeal had had on her. She was still very frightened and visibly shaky. She found talking about the crime difficult, and broke down in tears when recalling events.

As well as leaving other staff feeling vulnerable, these incidents can have a significant impact on business as customers who witnessed what happened may be unwilling to shop there again. And there will be a functional impact on the premises with police attending, statements being taken, CCTV copied, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) documentation completed and management reports compiled.

Retailers should be thinking about early intervention to stop incidents from ever reaching this stage. Staff training is paramount. It's not enough to give advice on dealing with abuse. Managers need to improve staff/customer interaction to help prevent potential problems from escalating.

It is also important that stores monitor crimes and learn from incidents. Managing risk, removing opportunities to commit crime and increasing the risk of being caught will deter most offenders.

There's lots of good practice and crime prevention advice available for retailers. The HSE have an excellent downloadable leaflet on managing work-related violence. Most police forces provide advice online or through local Crime Prevention Advisors. Retail Partnerships and Community Safety Partnerships will also support businesses in their fight to prevent crime.

So ask yourself again are you doing all you can to prevent violence and abuse towards your staff?