After all, the 450 daily attacks equates to 164,250 incidents throughout a calendar year – the equivalent of the population of the borough of Harrogate – and it is feared many other such crimes go unreported because victims think that police will either be too busy to respond or disinterested.
It should not be like this. As Both Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman and Matt Vickers, the Tory MP for Stockton South, said so persuasively in a House of Commons debate, shop staff are – just like emergency workers and first responders – performing an invaluable public service and demand far better protection from the law.
This is particularly pertinent to traditional corner shops; store workers should not be fearing for their safety when they try to uphold rules from age limits governing the sale of alcohol and tobacco to the enforcement of new Covid protocols on face masks and social distancing which have made a difficult job even more challenging.
In fairness, this prompted a sympathetic response from Home Office Minister Chris Philp whose first paid job was stacking shelves in a branch of Sainsbury’s. He also cited new guidance by the Sentencing Council which stresses that criminals guilty of offences against those who serve the public, “including retail workers”, do, indeed, deserve a “higher sentence”.
Yet, while this is welcome, there is little evidence that the courts are utilising the additional sentencing powers made available to them by landmark Protect The Protectors legislation pioneered by Halifax MP Holly Lynch and others.
Perhaps Mr Philp could address this because the public – and shop workers – clearly believe that the law is not being enforced as effectively as it should.