// A survey of 2700 retail workers found that 88% had been verbally abused last year
// 60% of shopworkers reported threats of physical violence
// 9% said they had been physically assaulted
Violence and abuse towards shopworkers is “endemic” and has worsened since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, MPs have heard.
A survey of 2700 retail workers found that 88 per cent were verbally abused last year, Usdaw head of research and economics Joanne Cairns told the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
Cairns also told the committee that 60 per cent of shopworkers reported threats of physical violence, and nine per cent said they had been physically assaulted.
- “Reopening means respecting shopworkers”, BRC & Usdaw urge
- 65+ retail CEOs sign letter to PM demanding laws to better protect shopworkers
- Scotland passes law to protect shop workers from abuse & attacks
Cairns said the issue was a “major concern”.
“This has been endemic for some time and it has worsened since the beginning of the Covid crisis,” she said.
She said safety measures required as a result of the pandemic have overtaken the most common triggers in previous years, with some 85 per cent of incidents related to issues such as queueing, social distancing and the requirement for face masks.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said Covid has become “another trigger” for shop violence.
Some 400,000 violent incidents were reported in convenience stores last year, with more than 10,000 of them involving a weapon.
Cairns said current legislation was “clearly not offering enough protection” to shop workers.
“It’s important to remember that we expect retail workers to enforce the law, but they are not being given adequate protection,” she said.
“They can lose their jobs if they don’t enforce the law so, in turn, we think they should be offered protection by the law.”
Iona Blake, security and incident manager at Boots, told MPs that spitting and the use of face coverings by offenders to avoid capture have become two Covid-related areas of concern.
“Spitting has been a real concern. It’s something we haven’t really experienced before, and it is continuing,” she said.
She added that the retailer has been “well supported” by police in relation to spitting incidents but “sadly not as well supported by the justice system further down the line”.
with PA Wires