// Violence towards shopworkers escalates as government is urged to take action
// The increased use of weapons, especially knives has become a “worrying trend”
The government has been urged to take action following increasing levels of violence towards shopworkers on the high street.
Trade association BRC said at least 424 incidents were reported every day in the year to last April, up by almost a tenth on the previous 12 months.
The increased use of weapons, especially knives has become a “worrying trend”.
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The BRC also expressed concern that retailers spent a record £1.2 billion on crime prevention in one year, while their losses reached £1 billion, including over £770 million from customer theft.
A letter was sent to the government last year signed by leading retailers calling for action.
More than two thirds of retailers believe the police response to incidents was poor, said the BRC.
“From abuse, to threats and violence, those affected carry these experiences with them for a lifetime,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“The government must help to put an end to the scourge of retail crime. This means a stronger police response to criminal incidents, and new legislation to introduce tougher sentences for those who assault retail workers.
“No one should have to go to work fearing violence or threats.”
Usdaw general secretary of the shopworkers union Paddy Lillis said: “It is high time for the government to act by providing proper penalties for those who assault workers.
“A simple, stand alone law that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, judiciary, and most importantly, criminals.”
Last month, Conservative MP Laurence Robertson highlighted concerns of shopkeepers as he urged the Ministry of Justice and Home Office to make sure it regarded them as a serious matter.
He also questioned what steps ministers were taking to increase the length of sentences for people convicted of retail crime.
Home Office minister Chris Philp said he expected the issue to be one of the areas police forces focus on as their officer numbers increase.
Speaking in the Commons, Philp told MPs: “Shops are the lifeblood of our local communities and they should be free to go about their business without fear.”