// The Co-op launches Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign to call on government to protect store employees against crime
// The grocer teamed up with criminologist Dr Emmeline Taylor
// Taylor’s report also found that the rising number of crimes against shop workers has hit a five-year high
The Co-op has joined forces with a criminologist to urge the government to protect store employees as violence in the retail sector reaches “epidemic proportions”.
The appeal is part of the grocer’s Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign.
Criminologist Dr Emmeline Taylor from City, University of London, has for the first time evidenced the impact and motivations of violence in the retail sector, which she described as having “reached ‘epidemic’ proportions”.
The campaign is funded by the Co-op, and calls on the government to send a clear message that violence and verbal aggression will not be tolerated in stores.
Taylor’s report also found that the rising number of crimes against shop workers has hit a five-year high, and highlighted the suffering and post-traumatic stress disorder that workers had to deal with.
“The strain of constant abuse and fear of physical violence is causing some shop workers to change their shift pattern, their place of work or, in the worst cases, terminate their employment entirely,” the report said.
Co-op chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “Nothing is more important to me than protecting our colleagues at the Co-op.
“I’ve worked in retail businesses for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen such high levels of violence and abuse.
“And it’s having lasting effects on the lives of workers, both mentally and physically. It is not part of the job to be verbally abused, threatened or attacked.
“We’re determined to make sure it isn’t and in addition to industry-led initiatives, the sector needs government action to stem the tide of abuse against shop workers and address the underlying causes that are known to result in violence.”