Author Bio ▼

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
March 21, 2019

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Workplace violence

More than 100 shop workers attacked every day

More than 100 shop staff are attacked at work every day, according to new figures released today (21 March).

shopping-cartThe British Retail Consortium’s annual Retail Crime Survey reveals an average of 115 retail employees are attacked at work every day and the use of knives has become a “significant concern.

In total, the survey recorded just over 42,000 violent incidents in the retail sector and noted a trend towardsincidents becoming “more violent and frightening”, with an increasing willingness to use weapons to intimidate even for relatively small amounts.

The survey also found the total cost of crime and crime prevention for retailers was £1.9 billion last year, up 12% from the previous year (£1.7bn).

This was made up of £900 million direct cost from retail crime, and £1 billion spent in efforts to prevent crime.

Approximately 70% of respondents described the police response to retail crime as poor or very poor.

Violence against employees

While opinions showed the police response was generally better for violent incidents, as compared to customer theft or fraud, only 20% of respondents considered the response good or excellent.

“Violence against employees remains one of the most pressing issues retailers face, yet once again we have seen an increase in the overall number of incidents,” said Consortium Chief Executive, Helen Dickinson OBE.

Such crimes harm not just hardworking employees, but also on their families and communities. No one should go to work fearing threats and abuse.”

An annual survey by the Union of Shop, Distributed and Allied Workers (Usdaw) reported a 40% increase in incidents of violence against shop workers since 2016, with threats and abuse also up significantly.

Worryingly the survey revealed that one in six retail staff who have been assaulted don’t report it, mainly because they don’t think it will make a difference.

Protecting shop workers from threats and violence

Freedom From Fear

Responding to the Consortium’s new survey, the General Secretary of Usdaw, Paddy Lillis said: “Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them.

We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff.

“It is time for the Government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals. Shopworkers are on the frontline of helping to keep our communities safe, they have a crucial role that must be valued and respected.”

The 2019 Retail Crime Survey is available to read here.

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