The British Retail
Consortium has today (Monday 14 May) published a new best practice
guide for employers, which aims to increase awareness of the impact
that violence against staff has on employees and to challenge the
perception that abuse of shopworkers is acceptable.
The guidelines called
'Tackling Violence Against Staff' are endorsed by Usdaw and show
the extent of the action being taken by retailers to keep their
staff safe. These include having clear policies against violence
and abuse, robust store based risk assessments, appropriate store
layout, security and preventative measures, good staff training and
reporting procedures and providing support for staff after
Usdaw's Freedom From Fear
campaign against violence and abuse of shopworkers was
launched ten years ago and has succeeded in raising the profile of
the issue and led to employers, Government, police and others
taking action to help tackle the problem. While there have been
significant breakthroughs in key areas to help prevent and reduce
incidents, the Union's last survey conducted in 2010 still showed
that in the previous 12 months 6% of shopworkers had been subjected
to violent attack, 37% had been threatened with harm and a massive
70% had suffered verbal abuse.
Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:
"Usdaw welcomes these
guidelines. The BRC's support for the Union's Freedom from Fear
campaign has been very helpful. Working together we have seen a
significant reduction in serious assaults in the last five
"However we share the BRC's
concern that reports of threats and verbal abuse have escalated and
the rise in robberies over the last year shows that there is no
room for complacency. Usdaw is committed to working with the BRC
and with employers to make it clear that abuse is not part of the
"Usdaw also shares the BRC's
concern about the response of the police and the criminal justice
system to retail crime, particularly in view of the 20% cut to
police budgets which will take 16,000 police officers and 1,800
PCSOs off our streets."
British Retail Consortium
Head of Crime, Catherine Bowen, said:
considerable resources in protecting their workers, stock and
property. Protecting staff from violence means taking many factors
into account, from the positioning of in-store CCTV to how those
who do carry out attacks are prosecuted. Companies are doing a lot
to prevent trouble occurring in the first place, for example by
giving customer service staff training in how to avoid
"Our new guidelines will
help businesses be sure they've done all they can to prevent staff
from being attacked or abused. The question that remains is whether
the police and criminal justice system are doing all within their
power to protect the country's three million retail employees.
Those who are violent or threatening towards our staff are as
guilty of a crime as anyone who behaves that way on the street. The
police response needs to reflect that."
1. The BRC's 'Tackling
Violence Against Staff - Best Practice Guidelines for
Retailers' is available online.
2. Usdaw's Freedom from Fear
Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse
against shopworkers. It has four main aims:
- to negotiate with employers for safety and security
improvements in stores.
- to campaign with Government for policies to help tackle
retail crime and anti-social behaviour in shopping
- to raise awareness with the shopping public that
violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers is unacceptable
- to give shopworkers the confidence to speak out and not
accept abuse as just a part of the job.
3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is
the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over
415,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the
last five years and by nearly a third in the last 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.