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Offensive Weapons Bill is welcomed - Usdaw calls for greater protection for shopworkers

Date: 04 January 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis welcomes the Offensive Weapons Bill, which is due for its second reading in the House of Lords on Monday. Usdaw is calling on the Government to provide greater protection for shopworkers who will enforce the new law at the point of sale.
The Offensive Weapons Bill tightens the law on the sale of corrosive substances and knives in response to a significant increase in acid attacks and stabbings.
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “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.
 
“Shopworkers will play a vital role on the frontline of policing this 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.
 
“As the Bill is currently drafted, there are severe penalties on shopworkers who sell corrosive substances or knives to someone under 18, but there is no penalty on the individual attempting to make an illegal purchase. This is a perverse situation, with the retail worker referred to as the ‘accused’ many times in the Bill, but no criminality is attached to the person trying to buy a potentially offensive weapon. Surely the balance is wrong?
 
“We have had a positive discussion with the Home Office, after the Bill completed its passage through the House of Commons, and explored how to improve protections for shopworkers that are assaulted, threatened and abused for simply doing their job. The Minister listened and asked to be given time to consider what she had heard. We look forward to seeing what the Government will bring forward, perhaps in the debate on Monday.
 
“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.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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