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Usdaw promotes protection for shopworkers in the Offensive Weapons Bill

Date: 19 July 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is today giving evidence to the public bill committee that is scrutinising the Offensive Weapons Bill.
The union is calling for amendments to the Bill that will make it an offence to:
  • attempt to purchase corrosive substances and knives underage
  • intimidate or assault a worker enforcing the law on age restricted sales
Usdaw’s campaign has the support of retail employers as was demonstrated in the committee’s evidence session yesterday. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) was asked if they agreed with Usdaw that “there should be an offence for attempting to purchase weapons?” Responding the BRC said, “We do share the Usdaw view that carrying out an attack on a shop worker in the course of their employment should be a specific offence: either a generalised offence, or one that relates to age checking, but certainly some sort of specific offence.”
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We welcome the support of the employers’ organisation the BRC for our campaign to protect shopworkers. At the second reading of the Bill the Home Secretary recognised that the protection of shopworkers requires further thought and we are now seeking to meet with him as soon as possible. We would welcome the committee agreeing amendments to deliver the protections shopworkers need.

“Shopworkers will play a vital role on the frontline of policing this new law, as they already do on the sale of alcohol and other age-restricted products. Yet they are offered no additional protection under the law and shopworkers can be treated like criminals if a mistake is made at the point of sale.

“We want an offence of attempting to illegally buy an offensive weapon to be included in the legislation, so that the customer is equally liable for an illegal purchase. We also want a specific offence for assaulting shopworker who is enforcing the law.

“This is a much needed Bill that deserves support and we very much welcome it. We have all been appalled by the increase in assaults and deaths when acid and knives were used as offensive weapons. It is absolutely right that we do everything possible to stem the scourge of knife crime and acid attacks. Shopworkers are on the frontline of achieving that and helping to keep our communities safe. Their role should be valued, they deserve our respect, but most of all they deserve the protection of the law.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the 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.
Public Bill Committee - Offensive Weapons Bill (Second sitting): http://bit.ly/2zQAgBt
Interim results of Usdaw’s 2017 survey, based on 1,455 responses, show that over the last 12 months: 62.34% were verbally abused (an increase of 25%), 40.49% were threatened (an increase of 38%) and 3.23% were assaulted (an increase of 25%), which equals 265 per day. 56.11% had not reported an incident of abuse and 21.79% of shopworkers physically attacked did not report the assault. 79.91% say there needs to be a change in the law to provide better protection for shopworkers.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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