Violence and abuse against shop workers has soared, figures reveal

Abuse and threats faced by staff working in shops has become a regular occurrence, a report claims.

Figures of violence, foul-mouthed abuse and even knives being produced against retail workers rose by nine per cent in one year, with 424 incidents a day between 2018 and 2019.

The numbers have been highlighted in a report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which outlined the confronting of shoplifters, challenging customers over age-restricted sales and intoxicated people as the most common triggers for violence.

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One line in the report said, "over 90 per cent of our members have seen an increase in the amount of gang-related crime".

Incidents of violence and abuse against staff working in retail are on the rise, figures have suggested

The total cost of crime to the retail industry was £2.2bn last year, an increase of 16 per cent from the previous year (£1.9bn).

The Government called for retail companies to provide details of abuse faced by employees in a survey in April last year, responses to which were sent over the summer.

Last month, Alex Norris, Labour MP for Nottingham North, told the House of Commons that respondents to the survey were still waiting for the results, as he claimed that a staff member at his local Co-op had recently been "hit with a glass bottle".

Boris Johnson suggested the findings would be published, adding: "We should not tolerate crimes of violence against shopworkers or indeed anybody else."

The number for incidents of violence and abuse levelled at shop workers stood at just under 155,000 for the year 2018/2019, up from just under 142,000 from the year before.

The BRC report said: "Experiencing violence and abuse regularly places a heavy burden on our colleagues’ emotional and physical well-being, even when they are not the direct target."

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "These are not just statistics; these are real people who work hard for millions of customers every day. From abuse, to threats, to violence, those affected carry these experiences with them for a lifetime.

“The Government must help put an end to the scourge of retail crime. This means a stronger police response to criminal incidents, and new legislation to introduce tougher sentences for those who assault retail workers. No one should have to go to work fearing violence or threats.”