BEIJING – A monitoring device that can photograph customers’ faces clearly started operating in large and medium-sized supermarkets and shops across the city on Monday, an officer of the municipal public security bureau said.
The indoor security department of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau established a standard for safety protection in large and medium-sized supermarkets and shops, which is designed to guard against those who cause damage, steal goods or even poison food.
The new system will provide customers with a safe shopping environment, Yang Wei, the public security officer who is responsible for the standard, told China Daily.
In a first for such retail outlets, every business must install new monitors that can record customers’ facial features and behavior around cashiers, exits, storehouses and elevators, especially in food sections, Yang said.
“Currently, the monitors can only shoot the shape of customers’ faces and bodies in most shopping centers and supermarkets across the capital, and this creates difficulties for police in investigating theft and poisoning cases,” she said.
“Besides, the advanced monitors may also help business owners to keep order when many shoppers crowd such outlets during big sales or holiday periods.
“For retail outlets that do not have monitors, installing the new equipment is the priority. Larger shops need to urgently improve the equipment they already have.”
Yang said shops and supermarkets must pay for the special monitors.
Police in every district of the city will check the monitoring work during their routine inspections, so all business owners must meet the requirement as soon as possible, she added.
However, some shop owners and operators had not heard of the new requirements and others thought they should not have to pay for the installation.
In the Chaoyang branch of Ito Yokado, a general merchandise chain store, more than 100 detectors have been installed in cashier sections, accounting offices and passages between goods shelves, according to a security officer surnamed Zhang, who did not want to be identified.
“But I have no idea about installing or improving probes,” she said, adding that most monitoring devices in the store are the common ones that cannot photograph customers’ faces clearly.
“We welcome this standard and hope to use the advanced camera, because it may help us to detect thieves and provide a safer environment for customers,” she said.
As for the installation or improvement fees, she said the chain’s head office will pay for them, although she thought they should not have to foot the bill.
Kou Fei, 24, who works at an educational company, also supported the standard and said: “The clearer the cameras are, the safer the shopping environment we have.
“The new probes will detect wrongdoers and won’t affect most customers. Why not install them?”
Yet, 30-year-old media worker Yu Li disagreed with Kou and the company official’s comments. She said the devices will make her uncomfortable while shopping and did not think they were necessary in such shops where staff members usually have clear views.
“Shopping is a kind of relaxation. I don’t want to be watched and have no privacy,” she said.
Qian Jun, a lawyer in the Ying Ke Law Firm, did not agree that the devices would infringe privacy and said it was reasonable for business owners to photograph customers in public as long as they used the devices according to the law.
However, he added that it was important businesses used the monitors properly.