Better protection for our shop workers

As chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Retail Crime, I was very pleased to see the amendment made in the House of Lords last week to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will make an attack on anyone providing a public service or duty, including shop workers, an aggravated offence which will result in tougher sentences for offenders.

This is a change in the law which I have been calling for since 2018. The abuse of our shop workers has unfortunately been on the rise for a number of years, and the pandemic saw abuse and also violence, further increase as retail workers put themselves at risk to serve their communities. Yet all too often the reward for working so hard has been unacceptable levels of abuse. The Association of Convenience Stores found that 89% of individuals working in local shops had experienced some form of abuse. The British Retail Consortium has reported that the number of incidents recorded last year amounts to the equivalent of one a minute during a typical day’s shopping.  

There are still changes that need to be made, such as increasing the use of banning orders for persistent offenders, and putting an end to shoplifters being fined in the post, but what we saw in the Lords was a definite step in the right direction.

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