Security is an important part of any c-store and a key part of this is our CCTV system. Just like everything technology-based, it has changed a lot in the past 10 years.

It does not seem that long ago we were running our old time-lapse VHS system, loading a fresh tape every 24 hours. Times have changed with Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), making the VHS system feel like a dinosaur.

We now operate the latest system in our stores, Network Video Recorders (NVRs), which can produce playback quality that will make your DVRs feel out of date. So what is the difference? Well, in basic terms, DVRs work with cameras connected via BNC connectors and the same cable used for your TV aerial at home. NVRs work with network cable (Cat 5). The difference from a user point of view is a far better picture and playback – think of it as the same change when HD TV started. The difference is that a good NVR system will be able to produce a picture that will easily result in an ID from a crime.

So why is CCTV so important? For most, it is a requirement of your alcohol licence. Just make sure you put the cameras where they will be the most useful. My advice is that you should have cameras placed directly over the tills; no more change issues or cashback problems. Also place a camera focused on your entrance area with the aim of getting good face shots, even consider using a pole to lower the camera.

Did you know that you can get cameras that record audio? They are a very useful upgrade. I have had a few customers complain that my staff were rude and abusive. Without audio cameras I would not have any proof, just their word against my staff. With audio cameras I could prove that they were lying and that my staff had actually experienced the abuse. 

If you are looking to upgrade then really you need to make sure you are moving to good NVR system running IP cameras. Don’t forget to make sure that the system you choose will meet the terms of your licence – we needed to have 30 days of recordings and, yes, the police here do check this. Maybe have a look at the range of suppliers out there to see what’s available.