• BRC, ACS, Usdaw and NFRN call for inquiry on retail violence
  • Over 400 incidents of violence and abuse against retail workers every day

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), Usdaw and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) have come together to call on the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper MP to launch an inquiry on retail violence.

Despite the thousands of retail staff being impacted by violence and abuse in the workplace, the Government has rejected numerous calls to protect shopworkers through the creation of a specific offence which would impose tougher penalties on perpetrators. Two weeks ago, the Government rejected Usdaw’s call for new legislation to better protect retail workers in their response to a petition, signed by over 63,000 people.

Retailers spent a record £1.2 billion on crime prevention in 2019, yet violence and abuse is on the rise with over 400 incidents every day, according the BRC’s latest Crime Survey. ACS’s 2020 Crime Report found that there were over 50,000 violent incidents in local shops. Staff have been verbally and violently assaulted, as well as spat at and coughed on for challenging shoplifters, enforcing age-restricted sales and implementing coronavirus safety measures.

The letter to Yvette Cooper MP asks the committee to “investigate this growing problem of violence and abuse against retail workers and the measures the Government should be taking to address it” and urges the committee to focus on the Government’s response to the Call for Evidence.

Over 50 cross-party MPs have already signed the BRC Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge, promising to tackle retail crime and support legislation to better protect retail workers.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium:
“How many more shopworkers must be needlessly assaulted before the Government will act? Existing legislation meant to protect these workers is not working, and many of those committing these appalling crimes are not being held to account. Meanwhile, the victims and their families are left carrying the physical and emotional scars. The incidents are becoming more frequent, which is why we urgently need the Home Affairs Committee to hold an investigation into this crucial issue.”

Paddy Lillis, General Secretary of Usdaw:
“Retail staff are key workers delivering essential services and that role must be valued and respected, and they deserve the protection of the law. It is astonishing that in the face of the evidence we have presented to them, the Government have so far refused to take action that would protect retail workers and show that abuse is not part of the job. We continue to work with the employers to improve health and safety for staff, however it is clear that we need more from the Government to tackle this crisis.”

Stuart Reddish, National President of National Federation of Independent Retailers:
“I get calls from hundreds of retailers who are crime victims. The impact of retail crime can be devastating and long-lasting – not just in terms of physical injuries but on anxiety and stress too. Retailers need the Government to act and tackle retail crime once and for all so everyone working in shops have confidence in their workplace and that should a crime incident occur they will receive the response and protection from the government, police and justice system that they deserve.  We hope that an inquiry by the Home Affairs Select Committee will act as a catalyst for government action”.

James Lowman, Chief Executive of Association of Convenience Stores:
“Violence and abuse against shopworkers rose for 40% of retailers during lockdown, who were there every day on the front line to keep their communities going. Nobody should have to go to work expecting to face abuse, which is why we need proper interventions, including tougher sentences and additional police resources to stop the cycle of repeat offending.”