Workplace Report September 2019

Health & safety - HSE Monitor

More resources needed to fight violence in retail

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis has called on the government to give the police the resources they need to respond to incidents and investigate retail crime. His call follows new research highlighting an almost threefold increase in assaults and threats against shopworkers. 

A new report by Dr Emmeline Taylor of City, University of London, ‘It’s not part of the job’: violence and verbal abuse towards shop workers – a review of the evidence and policy, pointed to figures contained in the Home Office Commercial Victimisation Survey. This shows assaults and threats have almost trebled from 524 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2016 to 1,433 in 2017. 

The statistics back up the findings of Usdaw’s own survey of 3,272 retail workers across England and Wales which found that 80% of respondents believe abuse and violence have increased in recent years. 

Usdaw’s survey also revealed that almost two-thirds (62%) have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse; almost a quarter described threats of physical violence, with over half of these involving threats with weapons such as knives and bottles; and around one in seven (15%) described actual physical violence including being pushed, spat upon, punched or kicked, or attacked with weapons. 

“We want the government to legislate for stiffer sentences for the thugs that attack shopworkers,” said Lillis. “We want to see retailers, police and the courts working in partnership to ensure better protection for shopworkers.”