The debate, at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, took place after the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed last week, in their Crime Survey for England and Wales, that shoplifting continues to rise, increasing by 8% during 2016, contributing to a 21% increase over the last decade.
Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many. Usdaw launched the 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 and we need the help of the police to deliver that aim.
Addressing the Usdaw Annual Delegate Meeting, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw Deputy General Secretary said: “Convenience store staff are at the sharp end when it comes to the risks of customer abuse. Low staffing levels and longer opening hours mean that they are exposed to increased risk. They often see more problems from shoplifting and alcohol related problems over underage purchases and drunken customers.
“Uniformed security guards can play a significant role in protecting staff, but the numbers of security guards in convenience stores have been reduced in recent years and many businesses have contracted out the security guard operation to third parties.
“In-house security guards are usually the best option. They will know more about the business. They will know the shopworkers they are working with. In contrast, contracted security guards are often moved from store to store and only work for short periods at one location. Security guards have an important part to play in the convenience sector and in-house security guard operations are usually the best option.”
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.
Results of the Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear survey, based on 2,805 responses, show that over the last 12 months 50% were verbally abused and 29% were threatened. 8% have been assaulted, with 32% not reporting the incident.
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion