The latest survey of shopworkers by Usdaw shows that violence has increased by over 25% in the last year. This is despite BRC figures showing record spending of over £1 billion by retailers on crime prevention.

During Respect for Shopworkers Week, the BRC and Usdaw are urging political parties to come together to support tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers. Additionally, both organisations are calling for specific policing resources to be targeted at retail crime. The Usdaw survey showed that less than half (42%) of shopworkers have ever even seen a patrolling police officer inside their shops.

On Tuesday, the BRC launched its retail manifesto which calls on the next Government to safeguard shopworkers by bringing forward legislation to protect them from increasing attacks in the workplace.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“Everyone deserves to go to work free from fear. The latest retail crime statistics are shocking. This is not a victimless crime; those targeted with threats and abuse carry those experiences with them for a lifetime. It affects not just hardworking shopworkers, but also their families and communities.

“Politics is meant to be about helping people. We hope that every politician elected this December will support our call for stiffer penalties for those who abuse, or assault shop staff. Violence against shopworkers remains one of the most pressing issues retailers face and the next Government must take action to stamp it out.”

Paddy Lillis, General Secretary at Usdaw, said:

“This disturbing increase in violence against shopworkers, alongside continued high levels of threats and abuse, demands urgent action from the next Government. Our members working in retail feel exposed and on the frontline and we are extremely concerned that limited police resources mean that so many shopworker never see a police patrol.

“When the retail employers and the shopworkers’ trade union come together with one voice for greater legal protection for shopworkers; we hope the politicians are listening.

“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, they deserve the protection of the law."