The Home Affairs Committee opened its inquiry into violence against retail workers yesterday (14 April), with MPs taking evidence from industry leaders, trade associations and unions.
The new inquiry will examine the “barriers” to reporting incidents and the quality of support provided to victims by police and employers, as well as the prevalence of violence towards workers in the wider retail sector.
Among the witnesses called yesterday to speak were Joanne Cairns, head of Research and Economics at the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), Paul Gerrard, Campaigns and Public Affairs Director at The Co-op, Tom Ironside, director of Business and Regulation at the British Retail Consortium, and Iona Blake, Security and Incident manager for Boots UK.
When speaking to the Committee, Cairns emphasised a survey of 2700 retail workers which found that 88% were verbally abused last year, with 60% reporting receiving physical threats and 9% being physically assaulted.
She said: “This has been endemic for some time and it has worsened since the beginning of the Covid crisis.”