The government has launched a call for evidence to tackle violence and abuse against shop staff.
The call is open for 12 weeks and asks organisations and individuals to contribute to the government’s understanding of the problem. Responses are particularly encouraged from retailers, trade associations and unions, as well as those working in the retail industry.
The most recent Home Office Commercial Victimisation Survey estimated that in 2017, workers from the wholesale and retail sector suffered around 510,000 incidents of assaults and threats, more than twice the number recorded in 2016.
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said:
Shop staff play an important role in our communities, and it is clearly unacceptable that they should experience violent or abusive behaviour.
Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and I know these crimes can have a significant impact on victims as well as retailers, customers and the wider community.
I’d encourage anyone who has been affected to share their experience to help shape our response to this issue.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium said:
Violence against employees is one of the most pressing issues retailers face. These crimes impact on the skilled, passionate and determined individuals who make the industry such a vibrant place; their families and loved ones; and the communities to which they contribute.
That is why it is heartening to see the government move so fast to publish this call for evidence, showing how important an issue they think it is.
The call for evidence seeks data relating to violence and abuse toward shop workers, including the extent to which incidents are linked to age-restricted sales of products like cigarettes and alcohol.
It also asks for feedback on prevention and support, enforcement and the criminal justice system. This includes the effectiveness of the law and any barriers to reporting these crimes.
The Home Office will consider the evidence and publish a response as swiftly as possible. The call for evidence follows a Ministerial roundtable with key industry leaders to discuss what can be done.
It is also supported by a package of measures to help raise awareness and encourage reporting of these crimes. This includes £50,000 of funding from the Home Office to the Association of Convenience Stores to run a communications campaign targeting the public and retail staff.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said:
We welcome this call for evidence and we encourage retailers and shop workers to share their experiences.
Along with the campaign we are running with the Home Office to encourage these crimes to be reported, this call for evidence shows that Ministers want to face this problem head on.
Retailers should take this opportunity to tell their story and press for a better response to these crimes from the police and courts.