Lillis meets with Home Office minister over legally protecting shopworkers from violence

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis is today meeting with Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins for a round-table discussion with retailers on how to legally protect staff from violence, threats and abuse.

The minister agreed to the talks during the report stage of the Offensive Weapons Bill, in response to an amendment tabled by David Hanson MP that would create a new offence if a person attempting to buy corrosive substance or knives abuses, threatens or assaults the retail worker who is enforcing the law.

Paddy Lillis said: “We look forward to productive discussions with the Home Office today as we explore legal protections for shopworkers that are assaulted, threatened and abused for simply doing their job.

“Shopworkers are on the frontline of helping to keep our communities safe by enforcing the law on age-restricted sales. Their role should be valued, they deserve our respect, but most of all they deserve the protection of the law. When retail employers, the shopping public and the shopworkers’ trade union agree on a measure to protect staff, it is only right that the Government takes notice.

“We need a better balance in the law. The existing offence of common assault is not enough, because it is rarely used and difficult to prove in cases of verbal abuse and threats. A specific offence of obstructing a retail worker who is enforcing the law, which is easily understood by employers, staff, police, judiciary, shoppers and most of all violent criminals is absolutely necessary.”

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