Government Rejects New Law against Attacking Shopworkers

ACS has expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision not to take forward an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would have introduced a new offence specifically for attacking or abusing a shopworker.

The amendment, put forward at the Committee Stage of the PCSC Bill this week by Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones MP, would have ensured that criminals who attack shopworkers face tougher penalties, especially in cases where the shopworker has been attacked whilst enforcing the law, for example on age restricted sales.

However, the Government saw fit to reject the amendment, claiming that existing legislation already sufficiently protects shopworkers and that it was employers, not the justice system, that weren’t supporting victims enough.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are disappointed that the Government has once again failed to take decisive action to tackle the torrent of violence and abuse faced by shopworkers. The justice system needs to send a clear message that these offences will not be tolerated, and it’s clear that the existing legislation does not go far enough to deter offenders. Retailers and colleagues are committed to reporting incidents wherever possible, and it is most often the lack of follow up action from the justice system that is cited as the main frustration and reason for not reporting, not the internal reporting system within a business.”

Figures from the 2021 ACS Crime Report show that there were over 40,000 violent attacks against people working in convenience stores and 1.1m incidents of theft over the last year, many of which committed by repeat offenders with a drug or alcohol addiction. The report also shows that there have been over 1.2m incidents of abuse over the last year, which often go unreported.

In evidence submitted to the Public Bill Committee on the PCSC Bill earlier this year, ACS has called for the inclusion of the following measures:

  • Introduce tougher penalties for attacks on shopworkers, recognising their role in enforcing the law and supporting their communities
  • Ensure that the new system of cautions is effective in dealing with repeat shop theft offences

ACS has previously worked with the Home Office and Crimestoppers on a campaign to encourage retailers and their colleagues to report incidents of abuse when they occur, and is currently co-ordinating with the Home Office, Crimestoppers and over 100 leading retailers in the UK on the ShopKind campaign, urging consumers to be respectful of others whilst in stores. Campaign materials for retailers are available to download on the NBCC website here.

This entry was posted by Chris on Fri, 25/06/2021 - 08:07