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ACS survey confirms Usdaw and BRC finding that attacks on shopworkers are a growing problem

Date: 26 March 2019 The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has today released their annual retail crime survey, which confirms last week’s findings by shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) that violence, threats and abuse against shop staff are on the increase.
The evidence from employers, both large and small, and workers themselves shows an increase in violence, threats and abuse. Usdaw argues that action needs to be taken to tackle this serious problem in the retail sector.
 
Last week Usdaw released their survey, which reveals that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are an increasing problem. During 2018:
  • Nearly two-thirds of shopworkers experienced verbal abuse.
  • Over 40% were threatened by a customer.
  • On average over 280 were assaulted every day.
The survey also found that the top triggers of these incidents are: 25% shop theft, 22% age-restricted sales and 21% sale of alcohol.
 
Today ACS published key findings from this year’s Crime Report, which include:
  • The three biggest concerns for retailers are violence against staff, theft by customers and verbal abuse against staff.
  • The report estimates that there were almost  10,000 incidents of violence in the sector over the last twelve months.
  • Of crimes committed where a weapon was present, the most commonly used weapon was a knife (68% of incidents).
Also last week the BRC has released their annual retail crime survey showing:
  • Violence remains a key issue. On average, 115 retail employees were attacked every day.
  • The combined cost of spending on crime prevention and losses from crime to the industry is a staggering £1.9 billion.
  • Over £700 million was lost due to customer theft alone, a rise of 31% on the previous year.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “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 staff about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and customers alike.
 
“When the trade union for shopworkers and the retail employers associations agree, through separate surveys, that the problem is getting much worse, it is time for the Government to sit up and listen. Our survey finds that enforcing the law on alcohol sales and other age restricted products accounts for almost half of incidents. A quarter of assaults and abuse are caused by theft from shops and we really have to question how much cuts in policing have contributed to a 30% increase in shoplifting over the last 10 years.

“Usdaw continues to call for stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals. The Government has accepted there is an issue, following a roundtable meeting that I attended with retailers. We have now secured a ‘call for evidence’ and investigation into what can be done to provide better protections for shopworkers.
 
“The three surveys will form a key part of the evidence they’ve requested. Shopworkers are on the frontline of helping to keep our communities safe, they have a crucial role that must be valued and respected.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 420,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Usdaw survey of violence and abuse against shop staff full report: www.usdaw.org.uk/2018FFFReport
 
ACS full 2019 Crime Report: http://bit.ly/ACSCrimeReport2019
 
British Retail Consortium - 2019 Retail Crime Survey: https://brc.org.uk/media/404253/brc-annual-crime-survey-2019.pdf
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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