90% of shop workers still facing “appalling violence, threats and abuse” as unions demand new legislation

Shop workers across the UK continued to face “appalling violence, threats and abuse” as a new study reveals over 1.2 million incidents occurred last year.

Retail trade union USDAW has once again called on the government to better protect retail staff after a damning new study from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) laid bare the scale of violence faced by shop workers.

According to the ACS crime survey, released this morning, a whopping 89 per cent of local shop workers have experienced some form of abuse over the last year, leading to over a million recorded incidents.

This retail crime wave has been driven by the pandemic, with 65 per cent of respondents seeing COVID-related threats to retail staff over face coverings, social distancing and age verification.

The ACS survey builds on separate data from USDAW which found 79 per cent of shopworkers thought abuse had risen over the last year, while 88 per cent said they experienced verbal abuse and nearly one in 10 were assaulted.

“The results of two separate surveys clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced by shopworkers and demonstrate the need for a ‘protection of shopworkers’ law,” USDAW general secretary Paddy Lillis said.

READ MORE: The technology keeping retail staff safe during the covid “crime epidemic”

“It has been a terrible year, with ACS and USDAW both finding nearly 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse and Covid safety measures becoming significant flashpoints.

“Over 104,000 people signed USDAW’s Parliamentary Petition on the issue and we are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job.”

Retailers including Co-op, which has helped lead the campaign with USDAW, have turned to technology including body cameras and facial recognition technology to try and combat the surge in retail violence.

Reveal Media, which manufactures body worn cameras, says it has seen an 80 per cent increase in uptake since the start of the pandemic.

Its chief executive Alasdair Field told the Retail Times, that a large retail client saw nine in 10 potentially aggressive situations deescalated without confrontation when the aggressor is informed they are being filmed.

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