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Independent retailers have praised MPs after an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that makes attacking a shop worker an aggravated offence was passed in the House of Commons last night (February 28).

Commenting, The Fed National President Narinder Randhawa said: “Everyone involved in retailing deserves to work in an environment that is safe.  Sadly, the reality is that theft, vandalism, and physical and verbal attacks are all too familiar for many NFRN members.

“For some considerable time, the Fed has been calling for the government to get tough on those who assault retail workers.  The fact that MPs have now passed an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that will make it an offence to assault anyone providing a public duty is very good news indeed.”

Besides calling on the government to take a tougher stance against people abusing shop staff, the Fed has been meeting police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales to encourage them to include tackling retail crime in their statutory crime plans.

During last night’s debate in the House of Commons, the Conservative MP for Stockton South, Matt Vickers, said: “Health and social care workers, transport workers and retail workers are owed a huge debt of gratitude, but not everyone in our society has shown them that gratitude.

“As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the future of retail, I hear the horrific and increasing abuse suffered by retail workers in town centres and shopping parades across the country. Last year, there were 455 assaults on retail workers—not every month, not every week, but every single day.

“The youngster with their first job stacking shelves and the semi-retired person with an extra part-time job on the tills to top up their income to buy their grandkids something nice for Christmas: these are normal people just doing their job. They are often not well paid, they do not have stab-proof vests or body-worn cameras, and every day they have to return to the scene of the crime.”

Justice minister Tom Pursglove said the move would “send a strong message that assaults against public-facing workers are totally unacceptable and will reinforce the seriousness with which the courts treat such offences”.

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