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Growing crowds amplify need to tighten security drill at malls, shopping hubs

Many times, when cars are stopped for inspection, the security person just peeps into the boot of the car, as if he has X-ray eyes to see what’ s inside.

noida Updated: Aug 12, 2018 02:29 IST
Pushpa Girimaji
Pushpa Girimaji
Hindustan Times
Crowds,Shopping hubs,Security checks
Although malls have lately installed screening devices and x-ray machines, a lot more needs to be done. (Yogendra Kumar/HT Photo)

In the last several years, both online and offline ‘discount sales’ have become part of the Independence Day celebrations on August 15. Described by the retail trade as ‘Independence day sales’ or ‘Freedom sales’, these have become extremely popular . But I must say that however attractive the online offers are, brick and mortar stores, particularly the malls, continue to attract consumers because for many families, it’s not just a shopping expedition, but a holiday outing.

The popularity of some of the malls can be seen in the large crowds and in the long queues of cars waiting to enter after a cursory security inspection at the entrance. Yes, I have often noticed that the security at these malls is so perfunctory as to be a farce. Many times, when cars are stopped for inspection, the security person just peeps into the boot of the car, as if he has X-ray eyes to see what’ s inside. And during ‘sale ‘ periods when the queue of cars spill on to the roads, they just allow them to go. And it’s all very alarming!

So much so that this time, I decided against writing my usual piece on the marketing gimmicks employed by retailers and manufacturers to psyche you into going on a shopping frenzy; to make you believe that you will be saving thousands of rupees by buying goods you did not even want in the first place. Instead, I wish to draw attention to the need for malls to tighten security and ensure the safety of thousands of consumers who visit them on these special days.

Well, I am not qualified to suggest improvements to the security system. But I can certainly point out the lacunae that I have noticed, in the hope that it would bring about the necessary changes. First and foremost, I find that most security personnel lack that alertness expected of them and seem totally disinterested in their jobs. I do not know how they are selected and what kind of training they get, but it’s obviously not adequate. The indifference with which many of them just wave the metal detector in the air and tell you to go would be really amusing, but for the security implications.

In recent years, the malls have installed x-ray machines to screen bags that consumers carry but what I notice is that the personnel sitting there do not even glance at the image on the screen. A friend told me recently that he was working at home with a flick knife and had put it in his pocket. He forgot all about it and later went to the mall with his son. While he was being frisked at the entrance, he remembered the knife and was surprised to find that it was not detected by the security person.

Last fortnight, I went to a neighbourhood mall early in the morning–at about 9.30 am, as I wanted to finish some urgent shopping. I was surprised to find the doors open, minus the security staff. Some were just getting into the building and most of them were gathered in the middle of the mall on the ground floor and were being briefed –may be that’s the daily drill, but the alarming fact is that there was absolutely no security at the gates.

I must mention that security checks at Dilli haat, another favourite destination of consumers during holidays, is even more farcical and cursory.

Those in charge of these places need to do a thorough risk assessment and put in place security commensurate with the risk , including a well monitored surveillance system and an emergency response procedure.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 02:29 IST