The Federation of Independent retailers (NFRN) says shopworkers should be given the same protection as other frontline workers as part of the newly announced Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The Bill will see maximum penalties doubled from 12 months to two years for those who assault police or other emergency workers, such as prison officers, fire personnel or frontline health workers – helping to protect those who put their lives on the line to keep communities safe.
The NFRN insists that retailers and their staff are just as much in the firing line, with physical and verbal attacks occurring in shops up and down the country on a daily basis.
NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “We are pleased that the government is getting tougher with violent criminals, but we have been calling for better protection of shopworkers for many years.
“While we fully appreciate that emergency workers regularly put themselves in danger and should receive better protection from the law, retailers and their staff face similar situations all the time.
“As long as there is no effective deterrent, these attacks in our stores will continue to seriously affect the lives of ordinary, innocent people who are simply doing their jobs.”
In January, the Scottish Parliament passed the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill, introduced by MSP Daniel Johnson.
The new legislation makes attacking a store worker a specific offence, while assaults or abuse relating to the sale of age-restricted products – such as alcohol or tobacco – also become an aggravating factor in law, attracting higher penalties for perpetrators.
The NFRN is calling on MPs in Westminster to now support the Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill presented by Alex Norris MP in 2020 and amend the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to include attacks on shopworkers.