Usdaw: more than 200 shopworkers assaulted every day
More than 200 shopworkers are assaulted every day, according to a new survey by Usdaw.
Published at the start of Respect for Shopworkers Week, the union’s interim survey shows that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers remain a major problem on the frontline of retail, with 60% experiencing verbal abuse, 37% being threatened by a customer, with more than 230 assaulted every day.
The number of incidents is in line with last year and remains higher than 2 years ago. The survey continues and full results will be released in the new year. You can read excerpts from the survey here.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Violence, threats and abuse against workers are amongst the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. Many UK workers are on the frontline of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault.
“Usdaw’s survey findings are in line with other statistics recently released, with the level of abuse and violence remaining far too high. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust last week found that two-thirds of UK retail workers have been exposed to violence or aggression in the workplace. Earlier in the year the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a doubling of violence against retail staff as part of their annual retail crime survey.
“While there are many factors behind retail crime, severe cuts in police funding and the loss of over 20,000 police officers does not help. Police resources are so stretched we now have some chief constables reporting that their officers can no longer attend theft from shops incidents and they are asking shopworkers to detain shoplifters, which would put our members in an unacceptably dangerous situation.
“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them. We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and customers alike.
“So there needs to be action to help protect staff. It is time for the government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals. The Government could act immediately by accepting a protection of shopworkers amendment to their Offensive Weapons Bill, which will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shopworker who is preventing the illegal sale of knives and corrosive substances.
“This week our members are out campaigning on high streets, in shopping centres and stores; talking to the public and asking them to ‘keep their cool and respect shopworkers’. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
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