Central England Co-op backs Freedom From Fear campaign

Central England Co-op backs Freedom From Fear campaign
// Central England Co-op asks shoppers to treat staff with respect as part of the Freedom From Fear campaign
// Incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167%, anti-social behaviour by 39%, assaults by 35% and threats by 16% compared to 2019
// Central England Co-op also had over 300 crimes related directly to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic

Central England Co-op has shown support for a new union-led campaign that asks shoppers to treat shop floor staff with respect.

As part of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear campaign, the convenience and grocery retailer is telling criminals and anyone who might physically or verbally threaten staff that “it is not worth the risk”.

Customers will be able to find out more about the campaign via posters in stores, which include details of how to sign an online petition calling for a new law to better protect staff – similar to the law that came into effect in Scotland this week.


Research by Usdaw has revealed that nine out of 10 retail workers have been verbally abused in the last 12 months and one in 10 have been physically attacked.

In Central England Co-op stores, there have been eight major incidents this year ranging from threatening colleagues with knives to punching them in the head.

In the last 12 months, the retailer said incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167 per cent, anti-social behaviour by 39 per cent, assaults by 35 per cent and threats by 16 per cent compared to 2019.

The retailer also revealed that over 300 crimes related directly to Covid-19 have been recorded in stores since the start of the pandemic.

“We are pleased to be able to support the Usdaw Freedom From Fear campaign,” Central England Co-op loss prevention manager Craig Goldie said.

“We hope people see the posters in store, respect our valued colleagues and also sign the petition to ensure new laws are put in place to better protect them.

“This has been something we have long campaigned for and this week-long campaign is a great way of continuing to talk about this really important issue.”

The news comes as Central England Co-op rolls out a range of staff safety measures in stores, including the expansion of a service it uses that allows them, at the touch of the button, to call for assistance, and placing tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

This crackdown will be supported by several measures already in place in stores, including a centrally monitored CCTV system and increased use of security officers and store detectives, stringent cash controls, new staff training on how to deal with situations involving violence or aggression, and working with offenders to help them beat their addiction and support their integration back into the community.

Central England Co-op has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the UK Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shop workers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.

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