News Archive

Mall Manager

by msecadm4921

A UK shopping centre is using a web-based incident reporting product to deal better with everything to do with security and general mall management.

Mark Rowe saw the product at IFSEC.

Security officers at Merry Hill have been asking youths to leave – but then what shopping mall does not? Groups of ten or 20 may be bumping into others and making other shoppers feel intimidated, even though the youths may mean no harm. Data showed that youths were mainly being thrown out at the bus station, because that is where the youths wanted to go. That might not be where trouble was. As a result of analysing the subject, security officers were able to patrol more proactively, asking groups to split into smaller groups, of perhaps threes or fours. The mall has found that groups are in the main happy to do that, talking among themselves and arranging to meet later at a cafe, perhaps. The mall reports fewer incidents and is telling fewer youths to leave – for wrong-doing, such as spitting at shoppers through straws from an upper floor. How to handle youths is an example of the balance that security teams must show; some shops, for example, may rely on youth spenders, and may not want youths banned. In a word, Merry Hill, part of the global Westfield chain of malls, uses incident reporting software from Case Global, to alert maintenance staff to spills, to plot trends, and to deal with any claims.

No more pieces of paper, or folders of corridor plans in the back of the van; no more rooms full of files that mean it can take forever to find the right injury report from months ago. If there is an incident such as an evacuation, the mall control room manager can talk to the police gold or silver commander as they are looking at the same operating procedures and mall plans online. Or, plans can go to fire authorities and others by disc, though a disc will not be updated as often as the web-based system. Talking through the product at IFSEC was Bill Croft, the former West Midlands Police man who now does consultancy for Merry Hill on the security and guarding side. To report an incident – US mall users of the product have a section for ‘drive by shootings’, not needed in the UK (yet) – an operator can select a category, anything from broken lift to assault. A digital camera image or CCTV footage can be added to an incident report; with mouse clicks you can put on a graphical map where the incident was. By an online search, managers can for instance learn if there is a particular night of the week that boy racers gather; or if there are prolific offenders. The Merry Hill control room reports that it has cut its paperwork by 60 per cent, and halved the time taken on reports. If the control room has a busy period, an operator might begin three or four incident reports, and save them; once it is quieter, the operator can finish them. Because the system is on the internet, managers can log in if they are at home, and brief themselves. Even the most experienced control room staff may not know of obscure corridors, and in any case such a large mall is changing all the time. The web-based system keeps up without having to reprint manuals.

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