Cllr Alan Hall has joined campaigners, co-operators, shop workers and trade unionists calling on the Government to making it an offence to assault, threaten or abuse shopworkers.

In the annual ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ 15-21 November 2021, trade union USDAW has released shocking statistics that show:

  • 89% have experienced verbal abuse.
  • 64% were threatened by a customer.
  • 11% were assaulted.
  • 46% said they were not confident that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference.
  • 7% of those who had been assaulted did not report the incident.
Shopworker abuse

Lord Vernon Coaker, Labour’s Home Affairs spokesperson said:

“Nearly half of the respondents to the Usdaw survey don’t believe that reporting the abuse they have faced makes a difference. Indeed, it’s clear the police have not viewed attacks against shopworkers as a priority. A Freedom of Information request made by the Co-op Group showed that the police did not attend 65% of the reported serious incidents in its stores last year. None of this is acceptable.”

“Abuse is not part of the job and it should never become normalised, common, or accepted. Nobody should be going to work expecting to face abuse, threats, and violence. But if it does happen, they need to be confident that the system is on their side. The current situation clearly needs to change and the only way to do that is through strong and decisive action at Parliament.”

Amendments were tabled to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the House of Lords on Wednesday, 17th November. During the debate, Lord Coaker stated that we have to challenge the police and others on those instances when crimes were reported but the response was not what we would expect it to be.

A Freedom of Information request made by the Co-op Group revealed that the police failed to attend in 65% of the incidents reported in Co-op stores. These will be the most serious incidents.

Cllr Alan Hall is a long standing supporter of the call for greater protection for shopworkers.

From alcohol and cigarettes to knives and acid, there are now more than 50 types of products that are restricted by law. It’s staff on the shop floor who we expect to enforce those laws, and who all too often pay the price in the form of violence, threats and verbal and physical abuse from customers. We ask shopworkers to uphold the law – but the law doesn’t do enough to protect them.Co-operative Party

USDAW has published some voices from the frontline giving examples of the abuse suffered by retail staff. Their survey says:

“Customer attempted to punch me upon asking for ID from his partner who appeared under 25.”
“Mocking my intelligence and misogynistic comment about my physical abilities.”
“Pulled my top open and stuffed some paper down my chest.”
“A customer spat in my face, in another incident a customer threw a basket of stock at me.”
“Abuse over rules, Covid policy and face masks.”
“Been physically assaulted, spat at, verbally abused, punched, hand round throat.”
“Called a c**t because we don’t have enough turkeys.”
“Hit with trolleys, verbally abused, called names and pushed.”
“Was shouted and sworn at, threatened to be beaten up and set on fire.”

Unfortunately, the Conservative Government has not accepted the amendment to the Bill however, it has agreed that changes should be made.

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