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Usdaw welcomes Labour's ban on cigarette proxy purchase and calls for protection of shopworkers

Date: 03 December 2013 Shopworkers Trade Union leader John Hannett has welcomed calls by Labour's Luciana Berger MP for a ban on the proxy purchase of cigarettes and tobacco products, but urges greater protection for shopworkers who have to police laws on age-restricted sales.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: "We welcome extending the existing legislation on proxy purchasing of alcohol to cigarettes and tobacco products. The current situation makes a mockery of banning under-18s from buying these products when an adult can knowingly and openly make the purchase on their behalf.

"However, the enforcement of laws on age-restricted sales falls on shopworkers and all too often the request to prove age can lead to violence, threats and abuse against retail staff. It can be a minor who has been refused an illegal purchase, or an adult who isn't able to prove their age, or is angry they have been asked to provide evidence of their age under policies like 'Think 25'.

"As Parliament passes legislation and expects shopworkers to enforce it; they have a responsibility to provide proper protection for retail staff. I hope that tomorrow the House of Lords will do their duty by shopworkers on the frontline of enforcing the law and support an amendment to a Government Bill that will extend the existing protections for police officers to all public facing workers."

On Wednesday 4 December 2013, the House of Lords will debate an amendment to the Government's Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill on the assault of workers in public facing roles. This amendment will create a specific additional offence of assaulting workers, extending existing protections for police officers to all public facing workers and providing a substantial deterrent to future assailants.

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing Trade Union with over 434,000 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.

Assault on workers in public facing roles amendment (56N) tabled by Lord Foulkes Of Cumnock: After Clause 103 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill insert the following new Clause—

"Assault on workers in public facing roles

(1)   A person, being a member of the public, who assaults a worker—

(a)   in the course of that worker's employment, or

(b)   by reason of that worker's employment, commits an offence.

(2)   No offence is committed—

(a)   under subsection (1)(a) unless the person who assaults knows, or ought to know, that the worker is acting in the course of the worker's employment;

(b)   under subsection (1)(b) unless the assault is motivated, in whole or in part, by malice towards the worker by reason of the worker's employment.

(3)   In this section—

"worker" means a person whose employment involves dealing with members of the public, to any extent, but only if that employment involves—

(a)   being physically present in the same place and at the same time as one or more members of the public; and

(b)   interacting with those members of the public for the purposes of the employment; or

(c)   providing a service to either particular members of the public or the public generally, "employment" in this context means any paid or unpaid work whether under contract, apprenticeship, or otherwise.

(4)   Evidence from a single source is sufficient evidence to establish for the purpose of subsection (1) whether a person is a worker.

(5)   A person guilty of an offence under this Act is liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale."

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news

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