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Shocking report shows a threefold increase in assaults and threats against shopworkers - Usdaw calls for Government action

Date: 10 September 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has called for Government action in light of research by Dr Emmeline Taylor of City, University of London, highlighting official figures from the Home Office which show that there has been a threefold increase in assaults and threats against shopworkers.
‘It’s not part of the job’: Violence and verbal abuse towards shop workers - A review of evidence and policy among many findings highlights: Assaults and threats committed against the wholesale and retail sector have increased almost three-fold from 524 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2016 to 1,433 in 2017 according to the Home Office’s Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS).
 
These statistics back up an Usdaw survey of 3,272 retail workers across England and Wales, which found that 80% believe that abuse and violence have increased in recent years. Forming the basis of Usdaw’s response to the Home Office ‘call for evidence’, the survey also revealed:
  • 62% have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse.
  • Almost a quarter describe threats of physical violence, with over half of these involving threats with weapons – most commonly knives, syringes or bottles.
  • 15% describe actual physical violence, varying from workers being pushed, spat upon, punched or kicked or attacked with weapons.
Usdaw’s full response: www.usdaw.org.uk/UsdawEvidence
 
Usdaw’s call for Government action has been backed by retailers and their representative organisations. A joint letter sent to the Home Secretary and other Ministers called for:
  • Tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers.
  • Change to the out of court disposals system (e.g. fixed penalty notices) which is failing to have an impact on reoffending.
  • A full review into the response of police forces to incidents of violence in the retail sector.
Full joint letter: www.usdaw.org.uk/RetailViolenceLetter
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The mounting evidence from retailers, police and our own survey of shopworkers all show a disturbing increase in retail crime and they are backed up by Home Office stats. This cannot be allowed to continue, action must be taken.
 
“We have long been concerned that retail crime is not taken seriously and sometimes regarded as victimless with only large companies affected, but the reality for shopworkers is very different. Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough and there needs to be government action to protect shopworkers.
 
“The police must have the resources from Government to respond to incidents and investigate retail crime. We want the Government to legislate for stiffer sentences for the thugs that attack shopworkers. We want to see retailers, police and the courts working in partnership to ensure better protection for shopworkers. Retail staff are an important part of our communities; their role must be valued, respected and protected.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Usdaw survey of violence and abuse against shop staff full report: www.usdaw.org.uk/2018FFFReport
 
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