Over 65 CEOs have written to the PM calling for “greater protection for shopworkers in England and Wales”, after research conducted by The British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that 100% of essential retail workers have seen an increase in verbal abuse.
Whilst conducting the research it was also discovered that two thirds of respondents reported an increase in the number of incidents of physical violence against staff during the current lockdown.
It comes as one one retailer accounted to the BRC that when reminding customers to shop alone, they were confronted and shouted at by an individual, who returned to the store later that afternoon “brandishing an axe [and] threatening the store team with it”.
A shopworker at another retailer asked a couple to put on face coverings. They left the store, only to return hours later when they began “coughing on staff, insisting they had coronavirus, which made the staff feel distressed.”
The letter calls for the government “to treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves and improve protection for our employees by creating a new statutory offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing a retail worker.”
According to the BRC, his legislation “would toughen sentences for those who are violent or abusive towards shopworkers, deter future perpetrators and ensure shopworkers feel safer at work”.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC said: “The BRC has repeatedly called on the Government to take action and protect our colleagues from harm.
“Every day over 400 retail staff are attacked, threatened, or abused in their place of work. Over 150,000 in 2019, and these numbers have been rising during the pandemic. Those attacked are our friends, our family, our colleagues. This cannot go on.”