// Alex Norris MP asks House of Commons to allocate time to create new legislation to protect shop workers
// Follows an industry survey which revealed that incidents have increased to over 400 a day
// Norris’ bill proposes to make certain offences of violence to be considered “aggravated” if they’re directed at shop floor staff
A campaign is being stepped up for legislation to protect retail shop workers from rising levels of violence, abuse and assaults.
Labour MP Alex Norris is asking the House of Commons to allocate time to create new legislation to protect shop workers by putting forward a Private Members’ Bill – Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill today after an industry survey revealed that incidents have increased to over 400 a day.
Norris’ bill proposes to make certain offences of violence – such as malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault – to be considered “aggravated” if they are directed at a shop floor staff member.
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If given the green light, the bill could then lead to stronger sentences on conviction.
The Co-op said its latest data showed a four-fold increase in violent incidents and abuse in its stores since 2017, and in the first 60 days of this year, 100 employees faced abuse every day, with 12 violent attacks.
A Freedom of Information request by the Co-op revealed that two out of every three incidents reported in its stores do not lead to the police attending.
“I am shocked at the level of abuse and violence shop workers face every day, and I see it in my own constituency (Nottingham North), where at my local Co-op a staff member was hit by a glass bottle. My Bill calls for retail workers to be given extra protection for two reasons,” Norris said.
“Firstly, as a point of principle, if we give shop workers responsibilities to uphold the law on sales of a range of products which Parliament has determined can only be sold to people above a certain age, then shop workers should be afforded protection in carrying out those public duties.
“Secondly, the Bill appeals for a reset in society. With a very clear message sent that it is not part of the job for shop workers to suffer abuse and violence and Parliament establishing a new expectation by legislating for what is acceptable and, the police given the resources to implement this new legislation.”
Co-op Food chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “Shop workers deserve to go to work every day safe in the knowledge that they will not be attacked or made to feel unsafe.
“As a community-based organisation we see the impact of social issues in our stores, the level of violence and abuse is unprecedented and cannot go on.
“We know that violence and crime is about much more than statistics. It has real impacts on people’s lives. ”
Whitfield said hundreds of Co-op workers had given details of incidents to the Home Office, adding there had been no response.
Paddy Lillis, general secretary of workers’ union Usdaw, said: “Life on the shop floor can be tough for many shop workers, and there is still a lot to do to protect them.
“We launched our Freedom from Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse.
“The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and I’m delighted the Co-op has supported this campaign so vigorously.
“It is high time for the government to act by providing proper penalties for those who assault workers – a simple standalone law that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and, most importantly, criminals.”
with PA Wires