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The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has vowed to leave no stone unturned as it continues to press the police and government to do more to tackle growing incidents of violence, threats and abuse against those working in retail.

National President Stuart Reddish said: “Independent retailers have been and continue to be at the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic, and have to deal with physical and verbal threats on a near-daily basis for simply doing their jobs.

“Nobody should have to deal with such incidents but, sadly, all too often retail workers have come to see it as just that – part of the job.

“We will continue to lobby the government to tighten the law so that any form of attack on shop workers is taken more seriously and ensure there are more stringent penalties for those who commit such crimes. I would also urge everyone involved in retail to report every crime incident.”

Mr Reddish’s comments followed a Westminster Hall debate on the evening of Monday June 7 about greater protection for workers.

MPs from all parties paid tribute to the efforts that all those working in the retail sector went to throughout the pandemic, agreeing that it was “completely unacceptable” that incidents of retail crime were rising.

Stockton South MP Matt Vickers led the debate after a petition calling for better protection for retail workers collected 104,354 signatures.

He added: “Over the past year, while most of us have retreated to the safety and comfort of our own homes, many of our retail workers rolled up their sleeves and got on with it, making sure that our shops remained stocked so that we could all access the essentials we needed as we bunkered down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have asked a lot of our retail workers over the past year: not only have we asked them to brave the pandemic, potentially putting themselves at risk from the virus, but we have asked them to implement the measures that were designed to keep us all safe, such as mask wearing and social distancing. As a result, violence and abuse directed towards retail workers has gone through the roof.

“Retail staff must be able to do their jobs without the fear that they will be on the receiving end of abuse or worse at any time throughout their shift. We need a punishment for these crimes that shows that we stand by our retail staff and that acts as a proper deterrent.”

While Home Office Under Secretary Chris Philp agreed that it was “completely unacceptable” for people in retail to be subject to threats, violence and abuse while serving the public, he called for more reporting of crimes.

He added that a recent survey of 8,742 people working in retail had revealed that only 53 per cent of respondents had reported crime incidents to the police.

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