The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has made an impassioned plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tackle the increasing number of physical and verbal attacks on shop workers.
Senior retail leaders, including NFRN National President Stuart Reddish, have written to the Prime Minister calling for a new statutory offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing a retail worker.
Attacks on retailers and their staff have been a growing trend for some time. In March last year, the annual British Retail Consortium crime survey reported that over 400 incidents of violence or abuse were occurring daily.
Major triggers for these incidents included challenging customers for ID when purchasing age restricted items or encountering shoplifters.
Nearly a year on, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation and has caused a dramatic spike in such incidents. Retailers have reported being verbally and physically assaulted, coughed at and spat at for trying to implement government rules regarding the wearing of face coverings in shops.
NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “Independent retailers have been and continue to be at the frontline during this crisis, and have to deal with physical and verbal threats on a near daily basis for simply doing their jobs.
“These are not victimless crimes – they have a serious impact on people who have been injured or experienced psychological trauma, as well as their families and the communities they serve.
“The time has come for the government to take immediate action and toughen the law to protect shop workers across the whole of the UK.”