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Usdaw worried by the BRC report of rising shop thefts and under-reporting of incidents in store

Date: 21 January 2014 Shopworkers trade union leader John Hannett is worried by the results of the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) retail crime survey, which reveals a nine year high in the number of shop thefts and significant under-reporting of incidents to the police.

The BRC report also shows that there was a trebling of the incidents of violence, threats and abuse against retail staff, which included a four-fold increase in assaults on shopworkers.

Usdaw’s own survey shows that there were over 110,000 shopworkers assaulted in 2013 and that one in four of them did not report the incident to their employer or the police.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: ‘It is very concerning to hear that shop theft is on the increase because that is often linked to violence against retail staff. Usdaw’s own survey shows an unacceptably high level of violence against shopworkers, with over 300 assaulted every day across the UK.

‘We share the BRC’s concern about under reporting, with only one in ten shop thefts being reported to the police. Our survey shows that almost one quarter of shopworkers did not report being violently assaulted and suffered in silence.

‘Our message is very clear, shopworkers do not have to put up with customer violence, it isn’t just a part of the job and if they report we can start to sort it.

‘However that is sometimes a difficult message to get over, with many shopworkers concerned that nothing will change if they do report incidents. So we are looking for employers, the police and Government to work with us to make a real difference.

‘One major worry is the leniency of sentencing for those who assault shopworkers. We are campaigning for a change in the law to provide stiffer sentences, by making the assault of a worker serving the public a separate offence additional to common assault.

‘We were disappointed to see the Government defeat this measure in the House of Lords last week, but our campaign continues and today’s figures show just how serious and widespread this problem is.’

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 431,000 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.

British Retail Consortium Annual Retail Crime Survey: http://www.brc.org.uk/brc_show_document.asp?id=4428&moid=8064

Debate on the protection of workers amendment: Lords Hansard, 14 January 2014, 6.51pm, column 165: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/140114-0002.htm#140114106000491

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