Shop workers across Yorkshire threatened with syringes, knives and axes as new figures reveal more than 30,000 staff are also victims of verbal abuse

Shop workers across Yorkshire have been threatened with syringes, knives and axes, as new figures released today show more than 30,000 staff have also been victims of verbal abuse.

A generic picture of a shop worker.

Over the last year, there have been around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores across the country.

Of these, one in four involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe or syringe.

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One store manager, who did not want to be named, said: "Violence and abuse is just getting worse. I was threatened with a syringe when a shoplifter was stealing cheese, and said if I didn’t get out of the way he would stab me.

"It has a huge effect on mental health – it is the thought that it could flare up, and happen at any time, the fear of the unknown."

The 2021 Crime Report, published today by the Association of Convenience Stores, also reveals that 89 per cent of colleagues have experienced some form of abuse, with over 1.2 million incidents recorded in the last year.

In Yorkshire alone, an estimated 34,500 workers have been victims of verbal abuse in the last 12 months, with an estimated 107,500 incidents recorded.

The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the top triggers of violence in stores.

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Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: "Over a million shop thefts and incidents of violence and abuse aren’t just big numbers, each one is a crime that has a personal impact on retailers and their colleagues. For so many people in local shops to have suffered this kind of abuse, just for doing their jobs, is shocking and must not be allowed to be normalised.

"Convenience stores have been on the front line serving their communities throughout the last year, but despite this they have been the constant target of criminals, often repeat offenders, who aren’t being dealt with properly by the justice system. This results in fewer retailers being willing to report crimes and less trust in the ability of the police to respond to incidents when they occur.

Crimes committed against the convenience sector cost £142m over the last year alone, equating to over £3,000 per store.

Stores have also invested heavily over the last year to make their businesses safer. Over £175 million has been spent by retailers on crime prevention measures like CCTV, external security staff and intruder alarms.