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The PRA and the ACS have welcomed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that would create a standalone offence of ‘assaulting a retail worker’. The amendment has been tabled by Shadow Minister for Policing, Alex Norris MP.

Gordon Balmer said: “The PRA has been working with the government – specifically the Home Office – and the Police to try and bring the issue of retail crime to the fore so we wholeheartedly welcome this amendment.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Courts need to pass sentences that match the sometimes life-changing consequences of attacks on shopworkers. A separate offence as set out in Alex Norris’s amendment would give the courts another sentencing option and make clear that such attacks are wholly unacceptable. We also need the courts to use the full powers they have now, and we need the police and CPS to make sure that such incidents are investigated and pursued through the courts so that an appropriate sentence can be handed down.”

Also backing the amendment is Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium. Calling on ‘MPs of all stripes’ to support the amendment, she said: “This amendment would show clear support for millions of dedicated retail workers up and down the country.

“Retail crime is soaring, with over 850 incidents of violence and abuse against retail workers every day, double pre-pandemic levels. Shoplifting has also increased by an average of 27% across 10 of the UK’s largest cities in the last year.

“The rise in incidents comes despite retailers investing hundreds of millions of pounds in safety measures such as body-worn cameras, more security personnel and CCTV.

“We cannot stand idle and let another year go by as retail crime continues to rise and retail workers continue to suffer. The current laws simply do not go far enough.”