Government urged to “investigate growing problem” of crime against shopworkers

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crime brc shopworkers government
Retailers spent a record £1.2 billion on crime prevention in 2019
// A group of associations have urged government to to launch inquiry into violence against retail staff
// The BRC, Association of Convenience Stores, Usdaw and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents wrote a letter to Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper MP
// The associations said the government has rejected numerous calls to protect shopworkers

A group of associations have come together to call on the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper MP to launch an inquiry on violence against retail staff.

The BRC, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), Usdaw and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) have urged Cooper to “investigate this growing problem of violence and abuse against retail workers and the measures the Government should be taking to address it”.

The associations have said that the government has rejected numerous calls to protect shopworkers through the creation of a specific offence which would impose tougher penalties on perpetrators.


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Two weeks ago, the government rejected Usdaw’s call for new legislation to protect retail workers in their response to a petition, which was signed by over 63,000 people.

According the BRC’s latest Crime Survey, retailers spent a record £1.2 billion on crime prevention in 2019, yet violence and abuse is on the rise with over 400 incidents every day.

Meanwhile, ACS’s 2020 Crime Report found that there were over 50,000 violent incidents in local shops where staff had been verbally and violently assaulted, as well as spat at and coughed on for challenging shoplifters, enforcing age-restricted sales and implementing coronavirus safety measures.

Over 50 cross-party MPs have already signed the BRC Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge, ensuring it will tackle retail crime.

“How many more shopworkers must be needlessly assaulted before the Government will act?,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Existing legislation meant to protect these workers is not working, and many of those committing these appalling crimes are not being held to account.

“Meanwhile, the victims and their families are left carrying the physical and emotional scars. The incidents are becoming more frequent, which is why we urgently need the Home Affairs Committee to hold an investigation into this crucial issue.”

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Retail staff are key workers delivering essential services and that role must be valued and respected, and they deserve the protection of the law.

“It is astonishing that in the face of the evidence we have presented to them, the government have so far refused to take action that would protect retail workers and show that abuse is not part of the job.

“We continue to work with the employers to improve health and safety for staff, however it is clear that we need more from the government to tackle this crisis.”

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