// The government said it will work with the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) to protect shopworkers against crime
// The government announcement comes more than 12 months after it initially opened a call for evidence into the issue
The government has responded to calls to crack down on abuse and violence against shopworkers.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Home Office said it would work with the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) on a “best practice guide to support staff in reporting these crimes”.
It also aims to “strengthen existing laws and improve data sharing between retail businesses and the police”.
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The government said its crime and policing minister would also write to police chiefs “underscoring the importance of working closely with local businesses to tackle this issue and emphasising that the theft of goods valued up to £200 from a shop should be prosecuted as a criminal offence”.
“As the daughter of shopkeepers, I know what a vital role they play within our communities and just how tirelessly they have worked during the coronavirus pandemic,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
“I will not tolerate violence and abuse against any shopworker and it’s right that those who commit these crimes must be caught and punished,” she said.
The government announcement comes more than 12 months after it initially opened a call for evidence into the issue of crimes against shopworkers last year.
Meanwhile, the BRC said it was “disappointed” that the government did not introduce a special, criminal offence for attacking shopworkers.
BRC business regulation director Tom Ironside said: “The government response acknowledges the need for an improved police response – something the BRC has long called for.”
“However, we are disappointed that the call for evidence does not to seek to introduce a specific offence for attacking shopworkers,” he said.
“Retailers, business groups and MPs have already called for this intervention, with a Bill to provide additional protection for retail workers gathering cross-party support.
“Recommendations to look at the Sentencing Council guidelines and sentencing legislation are welcome, along with the indication that offences against shopworkers can already be treated as aggravated, even though they seldom are.
“This is no substitute for the message that a change in the law would send.”
Moreover, Central England Co-op joined forces with hundreds of MPs from across the political spectrum on Tuesday to continue its campaign calling for better protection for colleagues dealing with would-be criminals who use verbal and physical threats towards them.
The retailer, which operates over 260 food stores across 16 counties, and over 200 parliamentarians from across the political divide have come together to reinforce its message to keep staff and customers safe.
New figures have seen assault levels by 100 per cent, threats and intimidation by 25 per cent and verbal abuse by 175 per cent since the start of the year.
Since lockdown was introduced, there have been over 100 incidents related directly to people using Covid-19 as a threat.