Make Abuse Or Violence Towards Retail Workers A Standalone Criminal Offence Petition!
The National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) is holding a national week of action to support businesses and reduce business crime across the country. The week of Action will start on Monday 17th October and involve police forces and partners working together to hold targeted operations in towns and city centres, running high profile media and social media campaigns, and engaging with local businesses, retailers and the community to raise awareness of business crime in the area. The City of London Police, who host the NBCC, will be holding a Safer Business Action (SaBA) Day to deliver a focussed operation with joint patrols, the targeted intervention of offenders and a range of crime prevention activity including raising awareness of the local issues with the general public.
The ShopKind campaign is backed by the Home Office and supported by major high street retailers as well as the nation’s independent shopkeepers, and the shopworkers union USDAW. The aim of the campaign is to encourage positive behaviours in shops, acknowledge the important role of shopworkers and raise awareness about the scale and impact of violence and abuse against shopworkers.
Figures from a Freedom From Fear Survey launched by the Union Of Shop Distributive And Allied Workers (USDAW), in 2022 revealed that that three quarters of retail workers experienced verbal abuse, half were threatened by a customer and eight percent were assaulted. Nearly a third (30%) are considering changing their job because of the violence and abuse they face on a daily basis whilst serving the general public. USDAW's Respect For Shopworkers campaign starts on the 13th - 19th November 2023.
Meanwhile an important petition which has already gained 14,888 signatures has been launched by Tesco employee Jenny Whyte, who works in the North of England, calling on the Government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone offence. The petition has been logged with Parliament and is fully backed by Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry who said: “I am fully behind the petition to make the abuse of retail workers a standalone offence. We want our colleagues to be safe at work. Creating a standalone offence not only sends a strong message to the small but violent group of people who abuse and attack shopworkers, but also makes it clear to shopworkers that as a nation we take protecting them seriously. I would encourage anyone who wants to see retail workers better protected to sign the petition, as every signature makes a difference."
Nobody should come to work afraid that they could be assaulted or abused for just doing their job. Jenny said, "things have definitely got worse over the past few years, and some of the incidents that colleagues have had to deal with are truly shocking. The Government could show it is serious about protecting retail workers on the front line with a specific offence, and I hope this petition will encourage them to do that.”
Katy Bourne, Sussex police and crime commissioner (PCC) and national lead for retail and business crime for the Association of PCCs, said: “The negative effects of retail crime are far reaching. Through new technology and dedicated specialist teams, more police forces across the UK are working to target prolific shoplifters and to make reporting easier and less time consuming for retailers – but there is still more to do. “This national week of action will highlight how police and businesses are sharing intelligence to get criminals off our streets whilst also maximising opportunities for civil orders to be served and charges to be made. “The week will also see additional visible patrolling and advice given to stores, thereby increasing feelings of safety for shopworkers and the public and reminding offenders that their crimes will not be ignored.”
Farrah McNutt, Catch a Thief UK founder and CEO who also supports the campaigns said, "People who work in retail serving the public should be able to go to their places of work and not be subjected to assault, abuse or threatened with violence. Retailers are at the core of our communities serving the public with the necessary essentials for our daily living needs and deserve respect and protection whilst carrying out their important duties serving the general public in these trying times. Every store owner, their retail staff, security guards, retail delivery personnel or anyone who is serving and helping the public should be able to attend their places of work without the fear of violence. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their places of work. Myself and my organisation Catch a Thief fully support USDAW's, Freedom From Fear campaign and would welcome the laws recently passed in Scotland which protect retail workers from violence and abuse to be implemented across the rest of the United Kingdom. I would encourage my retail members, security personnel, members of the general public, other retailers and their workers big and small to sign the petition and make this a reality to protect all retail workers from violence and abuse."
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021
The Bill for this Act of the Scottish Parliament was passed by the Parliament on 19th January 2021 and received Royal Assent on 24th February 2021 An Act of the Scottish Parliament to create an offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing retail workers; and to provide for a statutory aggravation of that offence where the retail worker is enforcing a statutory age restriction.