I have been contacted by a number of retail workers, especially by those working in Co-Ops, about the campaign for the better protection of shopworkers. I can assure you that I agree with calls for legislation to protect shopworkers from abuse and violence. I am also a regular visitor to my local Co-op so I am particularly grateful that so many people have taken the time to get in touch.
Last year the British Retail Consortium’s annual retail crime survey found that an average of 424 violent or abusive incidents took place every day against retail workers. Further research by USDAW, the shopworkers union, found that abuse, threats and assaults against retail workers doubled at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. These findings are shocking and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Nobody should fear physical or verbal assault at work, but that is the reality for many retail staff.
The Home Office launched a call for evidence on violence and abuse towards shop staff in April 2019, which closed on 28 June 2019. After over a year of no response, the Government finally responded to the findings of this consultation on 7 July 2020 to say that it “does not consider that the case is yet made out for a change in the law.”
I strongly disagree with this response. As you know, the UK Tory Government recently introduced its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to Parliament. This Bill includes welcome protections for emergency service workers who face assaults, but I believe these should be extended to cover shopworkers and other frontline workers.
I can assure you that I will continue to support efforts to ensure retail workers are given the protection they so deserve, especially after their incredible work on the frontline during the pandemic