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Retailers call on government for greater protection of shop workers

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

12 May 2021

A coalition consisting of more than 30 major retail businesses are urging the British government to prioritise shopworkers with protection for from violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour.

The call for stiffer penalties was signed by major retailers including Marks Spencer, John Lewis and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) after a new report, “Breaking the Cycle: Gaining the views of criminal justice practitioners and retail offenders on effective sentencing” is launched.

The research, written by Dr Emmeline Taylor and funded through the Co-op’s Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities, campaign, offers a response to the White Paper “A Smarter Approach to Sentencing and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill”, and provides clear opportunities to encourage Government to legislate to protect and support shopworkers.

Retailers, unions, trade and industry bodies are standing together, writing to the Prime Minister to say that legislation is needed to protect the three million people that work in the retail sector however, Government is so far rejecting the calls stating that ‘it remains unpersuaded of the need for a specific offence.’

Revealing its latest data, in the first quarter of 2021, Co-op has seen almost 400 incidents where weapons have been used against shopworkers. Co-op also saw a near 10 percent uplift in violent incidents in 2020 compared with 2019, which now means that assaults and attacks on its frontline shopworkers has increased by more than 650 percent.

Dr Emmeline Taylor, author of the report, said: “No one can deny that criminal justice is in need of reform – when nearly two thirds of offenders released from short custodial sentences reoffend within a year it is clear that the system isn’t working.