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Gloucestershire Business News

Thousands of shopworkers assaulted every month

Research by shopworkers' union USDAW suggests 100,000 retail workers have been assaulted in just eight months.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: "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. Even in the time since the Home Office call for evidence closed, our surveying suggests that around 100,000 shopworkers have been assaulted.

"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.

"We need decisive action to tackle this growing problem. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law."

In June last year, Usdaw responded to the government, showing that from 3,272 retail workers surveyed:

  • 62 per cent have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse
  • 80 per cent 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 per cent describe actual physical violence, varying from workers being pushed, spat upon, punched, kicked or attacked with weapons

Now USDAW, along with retailers and other representative organisations, has written to the Home Secretary requesting:

  • Tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers
  • Changes to the out of court disposals system (eg 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

The government will publish its response next month.

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