The BRC is continuing to push the government for a “statutory offence” for assaulting, threatening, or abusing retail workers, after staff report on average 455 incidents of violence and abuse each day.
A study, which was conducted by the group as part of its ‘2021 Retail Crime Survey’, showed that there was a 7% rise in abuse – with only 6% of incidents resulting in prosecution.
In addition, the findings also showed that the total cost to retailers of crime and crime prevention was £2.5bn, an increase of 14% compared to the previous year.
The BRC said a new statutory offence “would toughen sentences” for those who are violent or abusive towards shopworkers, deter future perpetrators, and ensure shop workers feel safer at work.
The plea to the government comes after the BRC launched its ‘Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge’ in September 2020, calling on “politicians to stand with retail workers” to support legislation for better protection.
The pledge has so far been signed by over 55 MPs from all major parties.
In January, Scottish Parliament passed the Daniel Johnson MSP’s Shopworker Protection Bill – which aims to give greater protection in law to retail workers, particularly where they are providing goods and services that are age restricted.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Will retail workers in England and Wales ever receive the protection they deserve? Despite clear evidence showing the escalation of violence and abuse against retail workers, the government has time and time again chosen not to act.
“These are not mere statistics, those affected are our parents, our partners and our children, all who needlessly suffer, just for doing their job. Many incidents arise as staff carry out their legal duties, including age verification and more recently, implementing Covid safety measures.”
She added: “Despite retailers spending enormous sums on crime prevention, the situation is only getting worse. Scotland has sent a clear message that the rise in violence and abuse must end, and the rest of the UK must follow their lead.”