Shopworkers face abuse from non-mask wearers as crime rises 140%, Co-op says

Co-op crime covid-19 pandemic face masks social distancing Jo Whitfield
In the last year, the Co-op has recorded a 140% increase in crime, with more than 200,000 cases
// Shop workers are dealing with rising levels of violence across grocery stores following the tightened restrictions on face coverings
// Co-op Food boss Jo Whitfield said the grocer has recorded thousands of incidents every week

Supermarket staff are reportedly facing increased levels of violence as customers vent their anger over the tightened enforcement of face coverings.

Co-op Food boss Jo Whitfield said the new demands for staff to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing rules have created a major flashpoint for “abuse, threats and violence”.

The grocer has recorded thousands of incidents every week, and Whitfield said supermarkets should not be expected to make customers cover up as this should be responsibility of the police force, The Telegraph reported.


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


In the last year, the Co-op has recorded a 140 per cent increase in crime, with more than 200,000 cases – ranging from those that are violent, non-violent or involve shoplifting.

It comes after supermarkets launched a massive operation to keep Britain fed which put their workers on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis.

Whitfield said shop workers are facing levels of violence for just doing their job.

“They have been spat at and threatened just because they’ve asked customers to respect social distancing,” she said.

“Colleagues have been terrorised with axes and physically punched. Another was hospitalised with a punctured lung and broken ribs after being attacked by three shoplifters over a £10 bottle of spirits.”

Retail workers’ union Usdaw said social distancing enforcement is the top cause of attacks and aggression against workers, whereas before the pandemic it was shoplifting.

Almost one in 10 shop staff say they have been assaulted, more than half have been threatened and almost 90 per cent have been verbally abused.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Threats and violence are unacceptable full stop, yes many customers feel frustrated when out shopping when faced with the current regulations but its still no excuse to assault shop workers. However many retailers operating smaller convenience stores are doing little to help ease both their staff and customers situation in store, why? insisting the store remains open when a delivery is taking place thus stock is on the floor making it difficult for people to get round whilst social distancing. One of the Independent Co-op`s have opted to close stores whilst restocking takes place to avoid problems, time the rest of the retailers followed suit. Also time for retailers of all sizes to ensure sufficient till points are open to avoid congestion.

  2. You say about till points, some are closed to aid the social distancing of the customers at the till and that of the staff behind the till

  3. There is no justification for being uncivilised. Period. People who violate this should be barred from shops and police called. A night in the cells would straighten them out

  4. As a coop worker, I cany count the amount of times iv been verbally abused even before the pandemic, mainly due to ID inspections. Since covid the abuse has got worse and customers do not respect us especially the social distancing. There should be something more in place to support us.

  5. Sorry but if some of these supermarket workers weren’t so full of themselves and reminding everyone at every opportunity that they are key workers it would help I think . Not defending violence or abuse in any way but just because some sections of society are walking around with halos on doesn’t mean the antisocial and criminal elements of it have gone away. Also is a £10 bottle of spirits really worth fighting 3 people for ?

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