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Scottish Protection of Workers Act has led to over 500 convictions Usdaw urges the UK Government to follow suit

Date: 07 February 2024 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed Scottish Government figures showing there had been more than 500 convictions under the Protection of Workers Act, which created a specific offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing those working in retail.
Stats released this week by the Scottish Government show that in the 11 months to November 2023, there were 2,233 alleged incidents recorded under Protection of Workers Act, equivalent to roughly seven a day.
 
The union is calling on Westminster to support an extension of this protection for shopworkers to the rest of the UK by backing a Labour amendment to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill.
 
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, who introduced the Protection of Workers Bill at Holyrood, stated: “These shocking figures show how many shopworkers face violence and harassment at work. Retail crime in Scotland is reaching crisis point and retail staff are bearing the brunt.”
 
Tracy Gilbert - Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland says: “Shopworkers deserve far more respect than they receive. Our annual survey results clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse they face. Two-thirds of our members working in retail are suffering abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence.
 
“We were delighted to have won the campaign for a protection of workers law in the Scottish Parliament, but that is the beginning not the end. We have to ensure that the legislation is central to tackle a growing wave of retail crime and Usdaw looks forward to working with Police Scotland to make that happen.”
 
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “The UK Government has repeatedly failed to act in the face of an epidemic of retail crime and rising theft from shops. It is deeply disappointing that there are no measures in their legislative programme to tackle high levels of theft from shops and abuse of shopworkers. Labour has promised to plug the gap by seeking to amend the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill to strengthen the law to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse.
 
“A protection of shopworkers law, which already exists in Scotland, would be a great start to tackling abuse of retail staff. We also welcome Labour’s other commitments to 13,000 more neighbourhood police with guaranteed patrols in town centres, respect orders to ban repeat offenders and ending the £200 threshold for investigating and prosecuting shop theft. Labour is clearly offering the change our members need.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is one of the fastest growing unions in the TUC and 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 www.usdaw.org.uk
 
Interim results of Usdaw’s 2023 survey, based on 3,082 responses, show that: 65.44% were verbally abused, 42.74% were threatened. 17.52% shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 4.81% had been assaulted this year. Of those who were abused, threatened or assaulted, 59.71% said that shoplifting and armed robbery was the trigger. The final results of the survey will be published in March 2024.
 
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
 
Criminal Justice Bill 2023: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3511
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers