Co-ops unite against store violence

Thursday Jun 03, 2021

Co-ops across the country, along with more than 30 retail giants, have formed a coalition to pressure the government into making changes that will give their shop workers greater protection.

Over three million shop workers are being threatened to a “life sentence of violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour” unless MPs back an amendment to a flagship Government crime bill which could give more protection to frontline workers. The call is for stiffer penalties for those committing assaults and attacks on shop workers, incidents of which have seen a huge rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are standing together with other retailers, unions, trade and industry bodies, writing to the Prime Minister to say that legislation is needed to protect the three million people that work in the retail sector. Government is so far rejecting the calls stating that ‘it remains unpersuaded of the need for a specific offence.’

As previous legislation to protect shop workers in England and Wales failed at the end of the last Parliamentary session, retailers are now urging Government’ to change its mind and bring forward an amendment – or new clause – to its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill, which would deliver greater protection for all frontline shop workers.

New research supports the Bill’s intention to increase the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to two years imprisonment. However, it goes on to stress that in light of the increase in the frequency and severity of assaults against shop workers, it is understandable that those working in the retail sector are also calling for similar legislation to protect them. Chelmsford Star Co-op feels strongly that this would send a clear signal to perpetrators that their behaviour in communities is unacceptable, whilst signalling to victims that these crimes will be taken seriously. Our CEO, Barry Wood, was quick to sign the letter to the Prime Minister.

In Scotland, the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) Act became law in February 2021 following a unanimous vote.