Several retail trade bodies have formed a coalition to call on parliament to launch an inquiry on retail violence, in a letter published yesterday (30 September).
The British Retail Consortium, the Association of Convenience Stores, Usdaw and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents wrote to Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the home affairs committee, to express their concerns.
The coalition comes after the government rejected “numerous” calls to protect shopworkers, including Usdaw’s call two weeks ago for new protective legislation following a petition of 63,000 signatures.
Retailers spent a “record” £1.2bn on crime prevention in 2019, yet “violence and abuse is on the rise” with over 400 incidents every day, according to the BRC’s latest crime survey.
Similarly, the coalition pointed to ACS’s 2020 crime study, which reported over 50,000 violent incidents in local shops over the year.
The retail bodies reported crimes including verbal and physical assault, which they said often took place whilst staff challenged shoplifters, enforced age-restricted sales or implemented covid-19 safety measures.
The letter to the government called for the home affairs committee to “investigate this growing problem of violence and abuse against retail workers and the measures the Government should be taking to address it.”
More than 50 cross-party MPs have signed the extant BRC shopworkers’ protection pledge, committing to tackling retail crime and supporting legislation to better protect retail workers.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “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.”
She added: “The incidents are becoming more frequent, which is why we urgently need the Home Affairs Committee to hold an investigation into this crucial issue.”