Central England Co-op records 12,000 incidents of staff suffering abuse during 2021
The retailer, which has more than 240 stores across 16 counties, issued the plea after it disclosed that growing numbers of staff have reported being subjected to abuse while on duty.
Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Safety has been and continues to be our top priority and we have worked together to provide a safe environment to shop and access our goods and services.
“Unfortunately, more of our retail colleagues have suffered from unacceptable verbal abuse and aggressive behaviour. We believe that each and every colleague should have the right to go to work and return home safely and we continue to invest in new safety measures including personal protection devices and access to counselling services.
“Across the whole festive period we are asking our customers and members to be kind to our colleagues, respect them and appreciate the sacrifices they are making to ensure everyone has the best Christmas and new year possible.”
Recent figures published by the retailer showed that nearly 12,000 incidents have been reported so far this year including 81 assaults, 959 cases of verbal abuse and threats, 307 anti-social behaviour reports and 160 direct incidents related to Covid-19.
This means, compared to last year, the total number of incidents has jumped by 26.1%, with rises in verbal abuse, threats and anti-social behaviour.
Staff have been punched in the face by shoplifters and there have been attempted thefts involving batons, needles and knives.
Other recent innovations aimed at driving down crime include the expansion of centrally monitored CCTV to more stores, the rollout of body cams, the further use of tracking devices in high risk products, the rollout of specialist software and technology to protect lone workers and new training packages and toolkits to ensure staff have all the information and skills they need to keep safe.