The British Retail Consortium reports that over 65 leading retailers and industry bodies have written to the Prime Minister to urge him to create a new statutory offence that punishes people who assault, threaten or abuse a retail worker.
The letter comes in response to a recent survey conducted by the BRC, which found that:
- Of “essential” retailers, who are currently allowed to be open, 100% of respondents have seen an increase in verbal abuse
- Two thirds of respondents reported an increase in the number of incidents of physical violence against staff during the current lockdown
- All retailers who reported a rise in verbal or violent attacks said that the enforcement of Covid restrictions was the key factor
- One leading retailer reported 990 incidents of violence or abuse in the first week after face coverings became compulsory in shops in including incidents of coughing and spitting
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the BRC said: "Every day over 400 retail staff are attacked, threatened, or abused in their place of work. Over 150,000 in 2019, and these numbers have been rising during the pandemic. Those attacked are our friends, our family, our colleagues. This cannot go on.
“The recent surge in violence should serve as a wake-up call for the Government. Retail workers are playing a vital role during the biggest public health crisis of our time – ensuring everyone has access to the items they need and keeping stores safe for customers and colleagues. And, at what cost? They have been coughed at, spat on, racially abused, threatened with weapons, the list goes on. No one should go to work fearing for their safety, and we hope the Prime Minister will play his part by introducing a new offence for abusing, threatening and assaulting a retail worker.”