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From today (August 24), verbal or physical attacks against anyone working in a retail store in Scotland will be subject to a new law – making it a specific offence.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has campaigned tirelessly for a change in the law to protect shopworkers and welcomed the recent decision by the Scottish Government to support a Bill introduced by Labour MSP Daniel Johnson.

The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 will ensure the seriousness of offending is highlighted through a specific offence and allow for tougher sentences for offenders.

NFRN Scottish President Ferhan Ashiq said: “I would like to commend Daniel Johnson MSP for spearheading this very important Bill and getting it passed through parliament.

“Shop workers are at the frontline and have to deal with physical and verbal threats on a near daily basis for simply doing their jobs.

“The rules around the enforcing of Covid-19 regulations merely strengthened the case for the need for this law more than ever.”

Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for justice and veterans in the Scottish parliament, said: “I hope this legislation will make the general public think more about their behaviour while interacting with retail workers in the future and also reassure retail workers that the Scottish Parliament takes their concerns seriously and that the Scottish government has also listened to their concerns.

“It is absolutely right that retail workers are protected by our criminal laws. Although existing laws criminalise the verbal and physical abuse of retail workers and provide our courts with the discretion to impose robust maximum penalties, the Scottish government understood and accepted that, for many, they have not felt safe or protected, even with the existing law in place.

“The Scottish government and I recognise the important role that retail workers play within our local communities and indeed the Scottish economy. In normal times, they make a significant contribution, but during this coronavirus outbreak that contribution has only been more emphasised as they are helping communities all across Scotland get through these challenging times.”

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