The government has published its response to a year-long consultation that sought to understand the true scale of violence and abuse towards shop staff in England and Wales.
The Call for Evidence, originally launched in April 2019, found that:
- The majority of respondents believed violence and abuse toward retail workers has increased in recent years due to a rise in theft, drug and alcohol abuse. It also cited a willingness among offenders to use violence and abuse when challenged by staff, and a decline in the number of security guards working at premises
- Many respondents had experienced threats and assaults where a knife or other sharp object was involved
- A significant number of respondents did not report incidents to the police due to a lack of response from a previous incident, employers discouraging their workforce from reporting incidents, incidents not being considered serious enough to be reported, and a general sense that suffering abuse is ‘part of the job’
- There was concern whether the civil tools under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2014 were not sufficient to tackle harassment, behaviour capable of causing alarm and distress, or to prevent reoffending
- There was a lack of understanding, or opportunity, for victims to explain how they have been affected by crimes committed against them either through a Victim Personal Statement or Business Impact Statement
- Victims did not feel that they were able to gain justice for crimes committed against them
Kit Malthouse MP, Minister for Crime and Policing, said that the Call for Evidence had been an important step in building understanding of the problem, but that it was only “the beginning of the process”.
The government is now working with the National Retail Crime Steering Group and British Retail Consortium to develop and deliver a programme of work to drive down abuse and violence.
The consultation closed in June 2019 and so responses reflect the experiences of retailers and shop workers before the pandemic.