ACS chief executive James Lowman

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is calling on MPs to back an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill that would make assaulting a retail worker a specific offence.

The amendment (New Clause 45), proposed by shadow policing minister Sarah Jones, is currently being considered alongside others as part of the committee stage of the PCSC Bill. If included in the Bill, assaulting, threatening, or abusing a retail worker would become a specific offence, with that offence becoming aggravated (more serious) if the abuse takes place as a result of the retail worker enforcing age restrictions, for example during the purchase of alcohol products.

The amendment also specifies that unpaid volunteers (such as those in community shops) and workers delivering goods from a retail outlet would be included within the scope of the term ‘retail worker’.

Figures from the 2021 ACS Crime Report show that there were more than 40,000 violent attacks against people working in convenience stores and 1.1 million incidents of theft over the last year, many committed by repeat offenders with a drug or alcohol addiction. The report also shows that there have been over 1.2 million incidents of abuse over the last year, which often go unreported.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This amendment is an important step toward taking much needed action to stop offenders repeatedly targeting convenience stores. Those who attack retailers and their colleagues must be dealt with properly through tougher sentences, so we urge MPs to back new clause 45 in the PCSC Bill to send a clear message that these offences will not be tolerated.”

In evidence submitted to the Public Bill Committee on the PCSC Bill earlier this year, ACS has called for the inclusion of the following measures:

  • Introduce tougher penalties for attacks on shopworkers, recognising their role in enforcing the law and supporting their communities;
  • Ensure that the new system of cautions is effective in dealing with repeat shop theft offences.