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Parliamentary petition to ‘make abuse or violence towards retail workers a standalone criminal offence’ welcomed by Usdaw

Date: 16 October 2023 Retail trade union Usdaw is urging the public to back shopworkers by signing a new House of Commons petition that seeks to protect retail workers from violence, threats and abuse by extending the Scottish protection of workers law to the rest of the UK. The petition has been launched in the face of an epidemic of shoplifting that has a real impact on the safety of shopworkers.
The petition can be signed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/647093 and says: “We are calling on the Government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence. This is necessary to send a strong signal to victims and perpetrators; to give workers the legal protection they deserve; and to tackle the scourge of abuse plaguing the retail sector. The British Retail Consortium’s crime survey found that violence and abuse against retail workers has almost doubled from more than 450 incidents per day in 2019-20 to over 850 last year. This is unacceptable. Last year, after a long-running campaign by retailers and USDAW, the UK Government made attacking shopworkers an aggravating factor in assault convictions. This was welcome but, one year on with the epidemic of violence against colleagues continuing, it is clear that we need to go further.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We welcome this petition and give it our full support. Usdaw is urging our members and the wider shopping public to sign up and show the Government that they have been wrong to repeatedly block extending the Scottish protection of workers law to the rest of the UK.
“We are facing an epidemic of retail crime, which is hugely concerning. Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals in the stores and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who are stealing to sell goods on.
“Usdaw research shows that last year, shoplifting and armed robbery were the trigger for over a third of instances of threats, abuse and violence towards our members, more than double the rate in 2016. This evidence shows that retail crime and abuse of shopworkers is getting significantly worse.
“Labour has committed to give shopworkers ‘Freedom From Fear’ and deliver on our campaign objectives. Last week Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper committed the next Labour Government to: 13,000 more neighbourhood police with guaranteed patrols in town centres; Respect Orders to ban repeat offenders from town centres; a standalone offence for assaulting a public service worker and will end the £200 threshold for investigating and prosecuting shop theft. This petition offers the current Government a last chance before the election to take a step in the right direction.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 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
Final results of the Usdaw 2022 survey, based on 7,752 responses, show that (last year’s results in brackets): 74.26% (89%) were verbally abused, 49.25% (63%) were threatened. 7.92% (12%) had been assaulted. 40.88% said violence, threats and abuse caused them anxiety at work and 29.97% are now considering changing job. Top triggers for abuse: 34% shoplifting and armed robbery, along with 16% age-restricted sales. The full report can be found at: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFReport2...
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2725
Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers by engaging the public, shopworkers and the Government www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Freedom-From-Fear
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