The research was commissioned by Under Age Sales, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).
Worryingly, a third of retail workers say these attacks leave them less confident in asking for ID, raising concerns that young people may have increased access to alcohol and tobacco, which are potentially harmful and linked to anti-social behaviour.
John Hannett - Usdaw General Secretary, said:
“All too often shopworkers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job. So this latest survey is very worrying, particularly the high number of racially motivated incidents.
“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them. We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail workers about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with retailers to promote respect and make workplaces safer for staff and customers alike.
“Criminals who assault staff are often not even sent to court, and those who are can receive derisory sentences. In other cases, where the offender isn’t even charged, victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted.
“Retail crime remains too high and there needs to be action to protect shopworkers. It is time for the Government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
Tony Allen - Managing Director of Under Age Sales says:
“Requesting ID from someone you suspect may be underage is a lawful practice which should never be met with the threat of abuse or physical harm. While there are currently measures in place to protect retailers from general in-store violence, it is time to delve deeper into the specific activities which trigger these reactions, and begin to place sanctions against those who commit them.
“Retailers told us they have been spat on, threatened with knives and some have even received death threats – simply for asking for age verification. This is unacceptable and it’s time for change.”
NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter says:
“With retail crime incidents soaring, more has to be done by the police and government before even more retailers are driven out of business. We look forward to working together with Under Age Sales Ltd and Usdaw to raise awareness of the scale of violence and abuse retailers face and the working on a solution. We will continue to lobby police and crime commissioners to act so that retail crime victims have confidence to come forward and report incidents to their local police in the knowledge that action will be taken.”
Jean Irving, Licensing and alcohol harm reduction spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs Council, says:
“Abuse and violence towards retailers is, first and foremost, unacceptable, and is something the police takes seriously. Retailers play a critical role in preventing children from accessing alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, knives and other age restricted products, and they should never fear carrying out the legal requirement of asking for ID from someone they suspect is underage. Doing so serves our local communities in preventing wider anti-social behaviour and crime.
“Research of this nature makes us even more aware of the problems faced by retail staff on a regular basis and enables us to develop effective solutions, so we would like to thank Under Age Sales, NFRN and USDAW for working collaboratively to bring these most recent figures to our attention.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest trade union with nearly 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion