The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has reiterated calls to the Government to take urgent action to tackle violence and abuse against shopworkers, highlighting the human impact that these incidents have.

In a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday January 14 the Prime Minister called for Whitehall departments to focus on tackling crime, stating that “every department should consider itself a criminal justice department” as part of the focus to tackle the “complex causes of crime”.

The Home Office call for evidence on violence and abuse toward shop staff closed in June 2019 and received over 800 responses from individual shopworkers, small shopkeepers, unions and business organisations.

The 2019 ACS Crime Report shows that challenging shop thieves, enforcing an age restricted sales policy and refusing to serve intoxicated customers were the top three triggers for aggressive and abusive behaviour in stores. The report estimates that there were almost 10,000 incidents of violence in the sector last year, with 83% of staff working in convenience stores having experienced some form of verbal abuse.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Government’s renewed focus on crime and violence and would like to see a swift and decisive response from the Home Office on violence and abuse toward shopworkers.

“Retailers continue to invest millions of pounds in their stores on crime prevention measures to protect their staff and their customers, but they cannot tackle the issue of violence and abuse without support and action from the Government. We need to see more effective penalties for attacks on shopworkers and action from police crime and commissioners which recognises the impact that crimes committed against local shops have on the local community.”

ACS has been working with the Home Office, the shop workers union Usdaw and the Co-op on the #AlwaysReportAbuse campaign to raise awareness about the human impact of crime committed against shopworkers to encourage colleagues to report incidents when they occur.