100 UK retailers demand new laws against violence in stores

100 of the UK’s leading retailers have written to the prime minister to demand new laws against violence in stores.

In a letter, some of the biggest British brands have called for an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would tackle escalating violence and abuse against retail workers.

The Bill has its report stage and third reading in Parliament on Monday 5 July.

The letter comes days after a Home Affairs Select Committee report concluded that a new criminal offence is needed to protect retail workers from a “shocking upsurge in violence and abuse.”

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) most recent crime survey found a 7 per cent year-on-year increase in incidents of violence and abuse in 2019, amounting to 455 cases every day. While more recent research from retailers has suggested the rate of incidents has risen even further during the pandemic.

One business reported a 76 per cent increase in abuse and a 10 per cent increase in violent attacks during the pandemic, of which over half involved a weapon, and many staff have been coughed at or spat on.

According to the BRC, retailers are spending record amounts on crime prevention and have invested £1.2 billion in the past year alone. This includes a range of measures such as body worn cameras, personal attack alarms and increased security personnel.

“Retailer workers are facing violence and abuse very day just for doing their jobs – keeping customers safe during the pandemic, checking ID, and confronting shoplifters,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “Behind each of these statistics is a person, a family, colleagues and communities that have to cope with this trauma. No-one should go to work fearing for their safety, yet many retail workers have come to see it as part of the job – this can’t go on.”

Dickinson added: “The time for action is now. We need to see the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill deliver better protection for our colleagues.”

The letter has been signed by: ALDI, Amazon UK, ASDA, ASOS.com, A.S. Watson Health & Beauty UK, Association of Convenience Stores, B&Q, Bensons for Beds Retail, Bestway National Chemists Ltd - Well Pharmacy, BIRA, BKUK Group, Booksellers Association, Boots UK, British Retail Consortium, Card Factory, Carpetright, Cath Kidston, Central England Co-operative, Company Shop, Costa Coffee, DFS Furniture, Dixons Carphone, Dr Martens, Dune Group, Dunelm Group, East of England Co-operative, Fishpools, Fraser Hart, Furniture Village, Greggs, Halfords Group, Harvey Nichols, hmv, HobbyCraft, Homebase, Iceland & The Food Warehouse, IKEA, JD Sports Fashion, John Lewis, Lidl GB, L'Occitane, Lovehoney, Majestic Wine, MandM Direct, Marks & Spencer, Matalan Retail, McColl's Retail Group, McDonald's, Mid Counties Co-operative, Music Industries Association, New Look, New West End Company, Nisa, Not on the High Street, One O One Convenience Stores, Paperchase, Pets at Home, Post Office Ltd, Primark, Radley+Co, RETRA, Richer Sounds, Rigby & Peller, River Island, Sainsbury's, Savers, Schuh, Scottish Midland Co-operative Society, Screwfix, Seasalt, Simba Sleep, Southern England Co-operative, Space NK, Spar UK, Specsavers, Starbucks UK, Sterling Furniture Group, Studio Retail Group, Ted Baker, Tempur UK, Tesco, The Bodyshop UK, The Co-op Group, The Fragrance Shop, The House of Bruar, The Orvis Company, The Paint Shed, The Perfume Shop, The Very Group, The White Company, The Works Stores, Theo Paphitis Retail Group, Topps Tiles, Vision Express, Waitrose, Whittard of Chelsea, WHSmith, Wickes, Wilko, and WM Morrison.

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