Vikki Howells MS

Vikki Howells MS

The Cross Party Group on Small Shops in the Welsh Parliament has met to raise awareness across the Senedd about the extent and impact of violence and abuse faced by shopworkers.

The meeting was chaired by Vikki Howells MS and attended by a number of MSs, independent retail trade associations, trade union USDAW and independent retailers.

During the meeting, ACS government relations director Edward Woodall presented the findings of the ACS 2022 Crime Report and talked about the #ShopKind campaign.

Findings from the 2022 Crime Report show that on average, each store in the convenience sector spent over £5,000 on crime prevention measures including security staff, CCTV and intruder alarms.

Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Andy Dunbobbin reflected on his Police and Crime Plan and how retailers and local police can achieve better outcomes together.

He said: “The safety and security of shopworkers is crucial in creating the welcoming local shopping environment our communities deserve. That’s why neighbourhood policing is at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan and why I believe partners should work together at all levels – national and local government, police, and the local community – to identify policing priorities, strategies for prevention, and effective programmes for rehabilitation.

“The ACS Crime Report lays bare the challenges faced by local shops, but I also believe the #ShopKind initiative marks a great way of highlighting this important issue and making our local shopworkers and shoppers safer and more secure in their communities.”

Howells said: “For the past 12 months, our retail sector has been on the frontline of how we have responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Crime Report is a powerful snapshot of how the sector, and people working or self-employed within it, have experienced crime during this period, with for example nine out of ten employees saying they have been subjected to verbal abuse.

“This is not acceptable, and as chair of the cross-party group I look forward to working with partners to highlight the issues and seek solutions so people can feel safe in work.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Crimes committed against small shops have a significant and long-lasting effect on individuals, communities and businesses.

“We are pleased that the group has come together to talk about this important issue to ensure that local shops get the protection and support that they so desperately need and deserve.”