UK retail organisations call for greater protection for shop workers

May 13, 2021 (Last Updated May 13th, 2021 15:56)

A coalition formed by UK retail organisations has urged the government to better protect shop workers against violence and abuse.

UK retail organisations call for greater protection for shop workers
Retail organisations call on the UK Government to take a tougher stance on violence and abuse towards shop workers. Credit: Travis Rigel Lukas Hornung / Flickr.

A coalition formed by more than 30 retail organisations in the UK has called on the country’s government to take harsher action against individuals assaulting and attacking shop workers.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) are also supporting the coalition.

The call follows the release of a report titled ‘Breaking the Cycle: Gaining the views of criminal justice practitioners and retail offenders on effective sentencing’ by criminologist Dr Emmeline Taylor.

The coalition is asking for a clause or amendment to be added to the existing Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill.

Dr Taylor said: “This bill provides an opportunity to enact legislation that will better serve victims, protect communities and rehabilitate offenders. It introduces better protections for emergency workers.

“Given the alarming frequency and severity of assaults against shop workers, an amendment to the bill to include them would signal that these crimes will be taken seriously.

“The legal leverage of the act could potentially improve the likelihood that offenders will comply with treatment services and secure long-term changes to their behaviour.”

USDAW general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We welcome another expert report from Dr Taylor, but deeply regret that her further intervention is necessary because of growing violence, threats and abuse against shop workers.

“USDAW’s survey last year showed that nine in ten shop workers had been abused last year and that the situation had become much worse during the pandemic.

“So it is very disappointing that the government continues to resist calls from across the retail industry for new legislation to protect shop workers.

“When major retail businesses and the shop workers’ trade union jointly call for legislation, it is time for the government to listen.”

The latest research has been funded through the Co-op’s Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign.

It supports the extension of prison sentences given for assaulting emergency workers from 12 months to two years.

A previous attempt at legislation to protect shop workers in England and Wales failed to clear the last Parliamentary session.

Last September, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) launched a pledge that seeks to protect shop workers from violence.

The pledge came after the BRC’s Retail Crime Survey revealed that more than 400 incidents of violence and abuse involving retail workers occurred in the UK each day.