The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has welcomed a report by the Home Affairs Committee calling for a much stronger police response and a new standalone offence to tackle violence and abuse towards shop workers.
In its report published today, the Committee says attacks on retailers and their staff has become endemic in British society and that the policing response is failing to match the scale of the problem.
NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said:
The Home Affairs Committee’s report merely reiterates what we have been telling the government repeatedly for years.
“Incidents of verbal abuse and physical attacks have become a daily occurrence for millions of shop workers and have increased dramatically during the Covid pandemic.
Other frontline workers, such as the emergency services and customs officers, are quite rightly given extra protection by the law in recognition of the service they provide to the public and the responsibility placed upon them.
“Shop workers are just as much in the firing line and deserve the same level of protection from the law and an appropriate response from the police.
Mr Reddish has written to all police and crime commissioners in England and Wales urging them to include tackling retail crime as a major part of their five-year plans, and to invite them to meet with NFRN members to hear for themselves the true scale of the problem.
Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper MP, said:
Everybody should be safe at work. Shop workers are the lifeblood of our local high streets and communities. During the Covid-19 pandemic, retail workers kept our communities going and they deserve our thanks and gratitude. It is even more shameful, then, that abuse and assaults against shopworkers went up during the pandemic, and it is completely unacceptable that these attacks have become so commonplace in our society.
“Too often, the police have not taken these crimes seriously enough and workers have been left to deal with the traumatic consequences alone. Those who abuse and assault shop workers must not be allowed to reoffend with impunity. Policing leaders must step up and make this a priority for local forces – with more neighbourhood police, clear plans to identify repeat offenders, respond to incidents swiftly and better record and understand patterns of local crimes.