Personnel safety

What do YOU want to protect yourself against?

This section covers some useful information regarding the safety of you and your staff. It is about identifying the potential for harm and taking the option to either reduce or prevent harm actually occuring. 

If you are an employer you will have a duty of care and responsibility for your staff. 

As an employee you have responsibility to yourself and of course to your family and loved ones.

Consider the situations when harm might occur and then what might be done to reduce the risk of harm happening e.g. vulnerability for some lone workers or those that travel to and from work in isolated locations or during unsocial hours. 

Within the many and very varied businesses there will be different perspectives on what constitutues harm, the way it presents and the consequences of it.

It will not be possible to prevent every situation escalating, nor to cover every eventuality/business environment, but by giving some attention to the subject you can improve the well being of staff and their confidence.


Assaults and woundings are mainly covered by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. There are other specific assaults such as the common law offence of 'common assault' and the offence of 'assaulting a police officer' under the Police Act 1996.

An assault is any intentional or reckless act which causes a person to apprehend immediate unlawful force or personal violence.  Physical injury or contact is not necessary. The emphasis is on the reaction of the victim, who must perceive the unlawful violence as 'immediate' (although this term has been given a wide interpretation).  Depending on the circumstances, words or gestures alone may constitute an assault. (An assault may involve a threat alone).

Section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 creates the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Criminal Justice Act 1988 is the reference for common assault and battery.

In addition there are other crimes that will accommodate the fact that someone has been harmed e.g. robbery.

Robbery - is covered by law within section 8 of the Theft Act 1968 and is an aggravated form of theft and, therefore, a theft has to be proved.  For robbery to occur a person must steal, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, they use force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force (this does not mean that you have to be physically injured, if you fear that you may be subjected to harm the offence may be complete).

More details about robbery are in the category Your business - Shoplifting and robbery.

What can YOU do to reduce the likelihood of it happening?


Increasingly, organisations are adopting lone worker policies and lone worker safety training, backed up in some cases by new lone worker protection technology together with monitoring devices to raise the alarm if they run into trouble.  A lone worker policy ensures the protection and safety of lone workers or staff who sometimes work alone, by minimising the risks that they face and putting in place appropriate measures to improve their safety. 


  • Legal requirements
  • Applicable laws
  • Places of work
  • Personal responsibility
  • Working outside normal hours
  • Risk assessment
  • Health and safety
  • Safe system of work
  • Organisational responsibilities

For more information take a look at Lone Worker Safety.

Everyone has a part to play – whether you are the owner, manager or employee. 

Things to consider if you want to deter the opportunity for robbery:

  • At opening and closing time – have at least two staff in attendance.
  • Personal information is just that – don’t give it to strangers.  
  • Have staff keep their personal belongings seperated from the work environment – perhaps provide appropriate lockers.
  • Think about the installation of an approved alarm system.
  • Think about the installation of an approved CCTV system
  • If you have to take cash to a bank to pay it in – think about whether you are being watched – change times and routes.
  • Don't keep large amounts of cash in tills – empty to a secure location regularly. 
  • Don’t use bags or boxes that make the contents obvious i.e. bags annotated with the word ‘cash’!
  • Remember - a tidy and effcient business is inviting to customers and not robbers.  Stay alert and engaging.
  • Are your staff identifiable from customers – dress code, badge wearing etc.
  • Use relevant and appropriate signs e.g. CCTV, no cash stored on premises overnight, staff do not have access to the safe.
  • During shop closing hours – think about leaving lights on so passers by can see into the premises.
  • If you see something unusual or that you are not sure about – write it down.  If something happens later you have the details. 
  • Partnership schemes can be joined or started – liaise with local police or others in the business community to get started.  More and more Business Resilience Partnerships and or Business Crime Reduction Partnerships are being implemented.

If a robbery occurs:

  • Remember that harm reduction is the focus in the event of a robbery taking place. 
  • Co-operate – don’t endanger yourself or others.  Lives cannot be replaced.
  • You will be nervous, frightened – which is normal.  Remember that the robbers will be nervous too.  Don’t trigger their anger.
  • Don’t talk amongst yourselves – this could antagonise robber(s). 
  • Don’t look directly at the robber(s).
  • Don’t make any sudden movements which could be misinterpreted by the robber(s).
  • Don’t follow or chase armed robber(s) – you will be more help to the police if you remain behind and provide as much detail as possible.
  • Do tell the robber(s) if there are other staff on the premises that might emerge – this will stop any surprises and potential for harm.
  • Do keep your hands in their view.
  • Do answer any questions they may ask.
  • Keep as calm as possible and try to remember as much as possible about what happens, how it happens, decriptions of people and vehicles, direction robbers take after they leave.  The police will need everything you recall to capture and prosecute offenders.
  • If you have an alarm activation button and only if safe to do so i.e. without attracting robbers attention – activate alarm.
  • After robbers leave raise the alarm as promptly as possible - if already achieved provide an update if police haven’t arrived.

Where can YOU get more help and advice?

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is a charity and provides excellent advice listed under different subject categories such as travelling for work, working alone and safety for estate agents, etc.

Personal safety at work


Crime Reduction Officer
Devon & Cornwall Police, Crime Reduction Dept
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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