The Co-operative Group is to offer its crime awareness training computer programme to independent retailers for free.

Currently in the final stages of development, the downloadable software will feature questionnaires on how staff could react in situations, and advice on contacting the police and recognising threats in stores.

"It won't be definitive training, but it will be another tool that retailers can use to protect their staff," said Co-operative national business crime and risk partnership manager Andrew Pope. "It can be completed at any computer terminal in the store, be it the back office, or at the till."

The programme is designed to provide a more time-efficient method of training. "It will be a cheaper, more efficient method that doesn't require staff to be out of the store, which costs the retailer money," added Pope. "It'll be another way of supporting the safety policies and procedures that are in place in stores."

The training site, which is expected to be rolled out in May, will also include links to crime report forms and provide pointers for helping staff to remember details about incidents and suspects.