Usdaw welcomes Parliamentary debate on the protection of shopworkers

A debate on the protection of shopworkers is to be held in Parliament today.

MP Mike Amesbury secured the Westminster Hall debate to highlight the violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers – a move welcomed by Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis, who said: “Usdaw has consistently demonstrated the full extent of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

“Eight months ago, alongside a broad range of retail employers, we responded to the Home Office ‘call for evidence’ and jointly called for action to tackle this growing problem. We hope the government will use the opportunity of tomorrow’s debate to detail how they intend to tackle this growing problem.

“Our message is clear; abuse is not a part of the job. We continue to call for stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers and the introduction of a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, courts and most importantly criminals. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

Last June Usdaw responded to the government’s ‘call for evidence’ showing that from 3,272 retail workers surveyed:

  • 62% have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse.
  • 80% believe that abuse and violence have increased in recent years.
  • Almost a quarter describe threats of physical violence, with over half of these involving threats with weapons – most commonly knives, syringes or bottles.
  • 15% describe actual physical violence, varying from workers being pushed, spat upon, punched, kicked or attacked with weapons.


Usdaw’s call for government action is backed by retailers and their representative organisations. A joint letter to the Home Secretary and other Ministers recommends:

  • Tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers.
  • Changes to the out of court disposals system (e.g. fixed penalty notices) which is failing to have an impact on reoffending.
  • A full review into the response of police forces to incidents of violence in retail.


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