UK-based supermarket chain Tesco has offered body-worn cameras to its staff members amid the rising violence and abuse against workers.

According to trade union USDAW, the initiative was taken after physical assaults on staff reportedly grew by a third in a year, according to Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy.

In July this year, the trade association British Retail Consortium (BRC) released the results of its crime survey, which showed that incidents of violence and abuse against retail employees increased from more than 450 per day in 2019-2020 to more than 850 per day last year.

Tesco has claimed to have invested £44m ($55.37m) on security measures in four years, including door access systems, protection screens, digital radios and cameras.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We are working with employers like Tesco to ensure better protection for shopworkers. There is no doubt that body-worn cameras do have a deterrent effect and we are supportive of such measures aimed at reducing violence, threats and abuse at work. Staff wearing cameras need to be properly trained and the public must be fully aware they are in use to act as a deterrent to would-be attackers.”

In addition to offering bodycams to staff, Ken Murphy has called for a law change that counts abuse or violence against shopworkers as an offence in the UK.

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Ken Murphy said: “I want those who break the law in our stores brought to book. After a long campaign by retailers and the union Usdaw, last year the government made attacking shop workers an aggravating factor in convictions – meaning offenders should get longer sentences. Judges should make use of this power. But we need to go further, as in Scotland, and make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence in itself.”