Co-op Group adds its stores to crime centre’s safe space scheme

'Anyone seeking a safe haven in their local Co-op will always be welcomed, encouraged to report their concerns and, above all, believed'

The Co-op Group has added its stores to the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) scheme which aims to provide provision in the retail sector for anyone feeling unsafe or vulnerable when out and about on the UK’s streets.

Also known as Operation Portum, the NBCC Safe Spaces scheme is “dedicated to ensuring communities are places where people feel safe and confident”.

The project is focused on increasing the number of spaces within the retail sector where people are always welcome to safely seek support.

With around 2,400 stores in towns, villages and cities across the UK, the Group says it has boosted the number of locations signed up to the scheme to more than 13,000. The scheme also provides advice and guidance to store colleagues.

Co-op Safe Spaces Scheme

Operations director Kate McCrae Graham said:  “Co-op is committed to operating at the heart of local life and, nothing is more important to us than the safety of our colleagues, member-owners, customers and communities.

“Anyone seeking a safe haven in their local Co-op will always be welcomed, encouraged to report their concerns and, above all, believed – as a convenience retailer, our doors are open from early morning until late into the night, and we want people to know that Co-op is always a welcome light and safe haven for anyone who feels unsafe or in need of support.”

Supt Patrick Holdaway, the NBCC lead, said: “We are delighted that Co-op is implementing the NBCC Safe Spaces scheme across its stores. The scheme was designed to provide safe spaces for people in local communities that feel vulnerable or need help and Co-op stores sit at the heart of many of those communities.

“The NBCC has a long working relationship with the Co-op and know how committed they are to protecting their staff and their customers. We know this will offer reassurance to many people who live or work near to a Co-op store particularly as many stores stay open late at night when people can feel more vulnerable.”

The Safe Spaces scheme provides an over-arching framework offering a consistent and appropriate way for supporting anyone seeking refuge in store. This involves:

  • Allowing a member of the public to wait safely on the shop floor after notifying a colleague they need help. This can be until support arrives, either by the police or a relative/friend
  • Use of a phone if required to contact emergency services, friend or a relative
  • The member of the public waits in an area that is covered by CCTV for added reassurance
  • Anyone seeking refuge is not judged, colleagues will believe anyone who comes forward to report something that makes them feel uncomfortable and, offer appropriate support

More information at nbcc.police.uk/partnerships/safe-spaces

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