New figures from The Institute of Customer Service revealed that 44% of frontline service staff have experienced hostility from customers in the past six months, a rise from 35% in February. It comes as new powers come into force today, which will allow for stiffer penalties for those who attack and abuse shopworkers. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 was given royal assent in April.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says:
“This survey is further confirmation of the scale of the problem retail staff face on a daily basis. Usdaw’s latest research found that 9 in 10 retail workers suffered abuse from customers last year, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Particularly concerning was the one-third increase in assaults.
“The Government has taken a step in the right direction by making the assault a public-facing worker a statutory aggravating factor when sentencing. However that relies on the police responding to incidents, the CPS prosecuting the case and a guilty verdict. Regrettably too many incidents do not get through to sentencing, which is a big part of why nearly two-thirds of shopworkers say they are not confident that reporting incidents will make any difference.
“Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse, and with shopworkers’ almost complete lack of confidence in the ability of the system to give them the protection they need, much more needs to be done. The Government must provide the coordination needed to ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safe places for our members to work and for customers to shop.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
Usdaw annual survey
of nearly 3,500 retail staff, which show that in the last twelve months: 90% have experienced verbal abuse, 64% were threatened by a customer, 12% were assaulted and 61% said they were not confident that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference. Full results: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFsurvey2021
Respect for Shopworkers Week 2022:
14 – 20 November with the theme of ‘report it to sort it’ www.usdaw.org.uk/freedomfromfear
Amendment 84 to the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill – Lords Hansard 15 December 2021: https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-12-15/debates/28547EAD-5F85-4D84-AC8E-1A19CC359B20/PoliceCrimeSentencingAndCourtsBill#contribution-8416AF16-070D-409D-B0EC-0C373BC7A3F3
The Institute of Customer Service: https://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion