Retail Organisations Call for Urgent Action on Violence and Abuse Toward Shopworkers from Home Office

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has written to the Minister of State for the Home Office Kit Malthouse MP, calling for an urgent response to the call for evidence on violence and abuse toward shopworkers ahead of a parliamentary debate on prevention of retail crime.

In the letter, ACS revealed that there has been an estimated 200,000 assaults and threats of people working in retail and wholesale sector since the Home Office’s call for evidence closed.

The call for evidence on violence towards shop staff closed in June and received over 800 responses from individual shopworkers, small shopkeepers, unions and business organisations detailing their experience of the growing problem of violent crime.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “It is completely unacceptable that our colleagues are facing life-changing incidents of violent and abusive behaviour while trying to do their job. We need the Home Office to show leadership and respond quickly to this call for evidence with a clear commitment to introduce tougher penalties for attacks and allocate more resources to enable police to respond. Retailers are investing millions of pounds in crime prevention measures to protect their stores and colleagues, but we cannot tackle the violence and abuse in our sector without the support of the Government.”

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “We have consistently demonstrated the full extent of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. Usdaw and the retail employers responded to the Home Office ‘call for evidence’ and with one voice with a call for action to tackle this growing problem. Our message is clear, abuse is not a part of the job. We continue to call for stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers and the introduction of a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, courts and most importantly criminals.

“We are aware of the existing criminal offences that could apply when shopworkers are assaulted, threatened or harassed. However our members’ experience is that the law is failing vulnerable workers. Many incidents are not even reported to the police. When they are the police response is often unsatisfactory because of their resource problems. Cases which do progress to trial often result in sentences which many victims consider derisory. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

Co-op Chief Executive Jo Whitfield said: “New research funded by the Co-op evidenced for first-time the impact and motivations of violence in the retail sector, which have reached epidemic proportions, and we have called on the Government to implement a series of recommendations to tackle the issue.

"The Co-op is doing all we can to raise awareness of the issue of violence but Government needs to urgently protect shop workers and send a clear message that violence and verbal aggression will not be tolerated. We are waiting on the Government to respond to our report’s recommendations and act following its own call for evidence on the issue which closed in June.”

ACS has been working with the Home Office, USDAW and the Co-op on the #AlwaysReportAbuse campaign to raise awareness about the human impact of crime against shopworkers and to encourage colleagues to report incidents when they occur.

The full letter is available here.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 09:11