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Labour amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill welcomed by Usdaw, Government is urged to support them

Date: 09 May 2024 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed two amendments to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill that have been tabled by shadow policing minister Alex Norris MP (Labour/Co-op Nottingham North). The draft legislation is due to begin its remaining stages in the House of Commons on Wednesday 15 May 2024, when these amendments could be debated and voted on by all MPs.
The first amendment calls for a standalone offence for abusing or assaulting a shop worker in the course of their duties, something Usdaw and many retailers have long called for, but was opposed by the Government and most Conservative MPs over many years. However, last month the Government did a U-turn and agreed for the need to legislate.
The second amendment seeks to reverse the Conservative decriminalisation of shoplifting, which allows the theft of goods worth up to £200 to be dealt with through a Fixed Penalty Notice, rather than a full prosecution. In practice, the effect of this change 10 years ago has been to give an open invitation to steal from stores and we are now seeing record levels of shoplifting, up by over one-third last year.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw general secretary says: “Last month the Government U-turned on the need to legislate to protect shop workers from violence, threats and abuse by announcing they would back a standalone offence in their Criminal Justice Bill. Next Wednesday they have their first chance to keep that promise by voting for the Labour amendment. We cannot wait any longer, the dither and delay of this Government, on this issue, over many years, has led to thousands of shop workers needlessly suffering physical and mental injury.
“The scale of violence, abuse and threats towards shop workers and extent of the retail crime epidemic has been a disgrace for many years. This has been made worse by police cuts and a failure to legislate to protect retail staff. Usdaw has long called for action that includes a standalone offence for assaulting a shopworker, which is supported by many retail employers and that has been vehemently opposed by this Government and their Conservative MPs on many occasions. Our members have had to wait too long for their voices to be heard and for common sense to prevail.
“Labour’s amendment would deliver for retail staff in England and Wales the protection that has existed in Scotland for three years. Labour’s second amendment would end the perverse £200 threshold for prosecuting shoplifters, which has effectively become an open invitation to retail criminals. Both amendments will go a long towards giving shop workers, who are key workers in every community, the respect that they have long deserved and regrettably too often do not receive.”
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
Criminal Justice Bill amendments: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-04/0155/amend/criminal_rm_rep_0509.pdf
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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