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UK must follow Scottish example to protect retail workers, says BRC

The new Scottish legislation’s purpose is to introduce tougher sentences for those who assault or abuse retail staff by making the perpetration a standalone offence

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called upon the UK Government to follow Scottish Parliament in implementing legislation that will better protect retail workers.

The new Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) Act 2021 was unanimously passed in Holyrood, and came into effect on 24 August.

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Its purpose is to introduce tougher sentences for those who assault or abuse retail staff by making the perpetration a standalone offence.

In turn, the industry body has urged for the same action to be taken in England and Wales, using the second reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at the House of Lords on 14 September to commence the discussions.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, highlighted that at this moment, retail workers in Dundee have more protection than those in Doncaster.

She said: “It is incomprehensible that despite Holyrood’s decisive action, the UK Government has so far failed to provide the same protections to shop workers in the rest of the UK.

“Retail workers have done an incredible job supporting us throughout this pandemic; they should not have to go to work fearing for their safety.”

According to the BRC’s annual crime survey, there were 450 incidents of violence and abuse every day at the beginning of 2020, with asking customers for ID when purchasing age restricted items the most common trigger for offences.

Dickinson added: “Given retail workers are required by law to ask customers for age verification, it is only just that they should be protected by law when this leads to violence and abuse.

“While victims are left traumatised, perpetrators roam free, with most crimes going unprosecuted.”

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