• Monday, June 27, 2022

Business

New bill aims to protect British shop workers from abuse

The figures from the annual Crime Report by the Association of Convenience Stores, published last week, show that convenience stores have been victim of over 50,000 incidents of violence over the last year (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images).

By: Radhakrishna N S

LABOUR MP Alex Norris is set to table a Private Members’ Bill that seeks to protect shop workers from the rising tide of violence and abuse.

The Ten Minute Rule Bill, due to be introduced on Monday (16), proposes to make assaults on shop workers aggravated offences.

“I am shocked at the level of abuse and violence shop workers face every day, and I see it in my own constituency, where at my local Co-op a staff member was hit by a glass bottle,” Norris, who represents Nottingham North, said.

He cited two reasons for extra protection for shop workers.

“Firstly, as a point of principle, if we give shop workers responsibilities to uphold the law on sales of a range of products which Parliament has determined can only be sold to people above a certain age, then shop workers should be afforded protection in carrying out those public duties,” he said.

“Secondly, the bill appeals for a reset in society. With a very clear message sent that it is not part of the job for shop workers to suffer abuse and violence and Parliament establishing a new expectation by legislating for what is acceptable and the police given the resources to implement this new legislation.”

The figures from the annual Crime Report by the Association of Convenience Stores, published last week, show that convenience stores have been victim of over 50,000 incidents of violence over the last year.

Earlier this month, the British Retail Consortium’s annual Retail Crime Survey revealed a nine per cent increase in violence and abuse, with 424 incidents reported each day.

Retail organisations have urged the government to support the Bill.

“It is high time for the government to act by providing proper penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone law that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and, most importantly, criminal,” said Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, noted that the government is yet to respond to a Home Office call for evidence on retail crime, which was closed in June 2019.

“Despite more than 600 of my colleagues bravely taking the time to share their own experiences of abuse, violence and intimidation with the Home Office, we have had no response,” she said.

“Government, along with law enforcement, must accelerate action to help develop a strategy which can address the root causes of crime in our communities and tackle this intensifying social issue.”

Responding to a Westminster Hall debate on the protection of retail workers in February, Crime Minister Kit Malthouse has promised that the government will publish its response to the call for evidence this month.

Scottish Parliament is currently considering a similar bill which proposes a new statutory offence of “assaulting, threatening, abusing, obstructing or hindering a retail worker” and creates a statutory aggravation to that offence “where the retail worker is enforcing a statutory age restriction.”

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