New laws against retail violence
100 retailers have written a letter to the Prime Minister
100 of the UK’s leading retailers have written to the Prime Minister calling on him to support an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would tackle escalating violence and abuse against retail workers. The Bill had its report stage and third reading in Parliament on Monday 5 July.
The letter comes just after a Home Affairs Select Committee report last week, which concluded that a new criminal offence is needed to protect retail workers from a “shocking upsurge in violence and abuse.”
The BRC’s most recent crime survey reveals a 7% year-on-year increase in incidents of violence and abuse in 2019 – 455 cases each day – while recent research by retailers shows that the rate of incidents has risen even further during the pandemic, as retailers have been working hard to ensure shops are safe and customers follow Covid-19 rules. One business reports a 76% increase in abuse and a 10% increase in violent attacks during the pandemic, of which over half involved a weapon, and many staff have been coughed at or spat on. Other flashpoints include encountering shoplifters or challenging customers for ID when they are purchasing age restricted items.
The BRC and its members have long campaigned for greater protection in law for retail workers and want to see workers in England and Wales offered the same protection as those in Scotland, where Daniel Johnson MSP’s Protection of Workers Bill became law earlier this year.
Retailers are spending record amounts on crime prevention and have invested £1.2 billion in the past year alone on crime prevention. This includes a range of measures such as body worn cameras, personal attack alarms and increased security personnel.