Iceland determines to put crime on ice thanks to introduction of Vista IP system

Recently voted ‘Best Big Company’ to work for in the UK, Iceland is one of Britain’s fastest-growing and most innovative retailers. With over 860 stores in the UK, the business is now looking to open 40 new stores and roll-out its online service to a further 320 stores, in turn covering around 80% of the UK’s population.

The introduction of Vista products has followed on from a period of reduced security investment by the popular retailer, but the time duly came when Iceland’s management absolutely recognised the need to upgrade its ageing analogue CCTV solution.

The business reports around 50,000 security-related incidents every year, including 4,500 episodes involving violence to staff and 5,000 focused on verbal abuse. Given Iceland’s strong Duty of Care towards protecting its staff, customers and valuable physical assets alike, this situation required a security solution that could match the scale, complexity and importance of the task.

Duncan Miles, head of security at Iceland, moved into his current role back in 2005. “The main challenges we face on a day-to-day basis are all based around protection,” Miles told Risk UK. “It’s essential for us to ensure all members of staff have adequate training and that we’re fully up-to-speed with the latest security technologies on the market.”

With the recent economic downturn and the subsequent reduced police numbers emanating from the Government’s austerity measures, Miles predicts that more of the medium risk stores in the Iceland Group will be upgraded to high risk. “There are many new challenges on the horizon,” continued Miles, “so we’re continually working to ensure that we’re fully prepared to meet them.”

Introduction of IP technology

Having completed the initial upgrade of the system using Vista’s analogue equipment, and by now one of the biggest users of the Vista brand in the UK, Iceland then decided to look at introducing IP technology to its property estate.

To ensure Iceland’s CCTV requirements were set for the challenges ahead, Miles went out to tender and gather advice on the available options.

“We were recommended to look at a number of solutions, but they were all too expensive, overly multi-functional or simply not user-friendly in terms of our specific requirements,” explained Miles. “We simply needed a reliable, cost-effective system that we could use across all of our stores.”

Fortunately, Adam Bowers of AHB Installations Ltd had the solution to hand in the form of Vista products. “Adam and the team at AHB really understood and responded to our requirements,” enthused Miles. “They had both great technical knowledge and an excellent awareness of the products on the market and, because of this, they could offer us a best-fit solution that was still within our planned budget.”

AHB Installations Ltd is a family-run business based in Flintshire. Its engineers have worked in the security business sector for over 25 years, and constantly strive to provide excellent quality of work at the same time as ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction.

As a service company, AHB Installations Ltd’s success depends upon the quality and reliability of that service to customers. A conscientious and flexible attitude, combined with a positive approach, are absolutely key to the business’ operating philosophy.

Better recording rates

Since Iceland was already making good use of Vista’s Quantum DVR range, and was extremely happy with the performance and ease of use that system offers, Bowers suggested upgrading to IP using the new Vista QNVR.

“The QNVR has the same format and layout as the Quantum DVR, but with the added advantage of better recording rates and improved quality of images,” commented Bowers. “This provided Iceland with an easy transition to IP, as the end users could just carry on operating the equipment in the same way that they’ve always done.”

In addition to the QNVRs, VK21080 dome cameras have been installed in the higher risk stores. Miles said: “The beauty of using the Vista kit is that it means we can afford to make upgrades to multiple stores rather than just one or two, which would have been the case with some of the more expensive options presented to us.”

The analogue kit from these stores is then recycled into lower risk stores until budget becomes available to upgrade them to the new IP system. The advantage of using the QNVR for the IP systems and the Quantum DVR for the analogue systems is that, no matter which store is under discussion, the solution works in exactly the same way. With managers regularly moving around the company’s property estate, this minimises training requirements and allows for the equipment to be used with the utmost confidence.

The number of cameras required for each store is minimised via intelligent placement in corner zones and along aisles. This set-up affords Miles and his security team continuous coverage of all areas.

“Being able to track a single customer on their complete journey around a given store is fantastic for evidential purposes and a feature we use on a regular basis,” enthused Miles.

Images are reproduced on dedicated Xeno 17” CCTV monitors on the shop floor and monitors located in the Back of House areas.

The security outcome

Vista IP equipment has already been installed at over 50 new Iceland stores, with an ongoing requirement for 30-50 new stores and 60 upgraded stores to be covered each year across the 850-strong estate.

“We love the system,” said Miles. “It’s extremely simple to use and very, very reliable. We have almost 750 units currently in operation and haven’t experienced significant issues with any of them. Our members of staff are very comfortable using the system and, importantly, the quality of images rendered is excellent.”

The system is used continually for evidential purposes, with incidents burned to disk and submitted to the police. However, it’s not just used for helping to crack down on crime. Operationally, the cameras provide valuable information to store managers. They can keep an eye on any queues forming at checkouts such that more staff may be allocated to help out if required.

The cameras can also be used for public safety, such as investigating reports of slips and falls on shop floor areas.

“Norbain has been a great source of knowledge and advice throughout this project,” commented Adam Bowers. “We’ve been well supported every step of the way. The business is quick to respond to all queries, even during out of hours periods.”

Norbain and AHB Installations Ltd have worked together to ensure that the needs of the client are met and that Duncan Miles and his team are always kept up-to-speed with changing technologies in the market.

“We obviously had on-site meetings with both companies,” explained Miles, “but I also attended a number of events with them. This allowed the businesses to illustrate to me what options were available on the market and how they might meet our specific requirements.”

Iceland is now looking at integrating the new IP cameras into its Electronic Point of Sale system and networking across all of its stores such that vital operational information may be shared through the entire property estate.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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