The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed widespread support for a Bill in Scotland creating a new offence designed to protect shopworkers from violence.

Over 90% of respondents to the consultation put forward by Daniel Johnson MSP supported measures to create new offences to deter harassment, abuse and violence against staff triggered by asking customers for proof of age or denying sale of age-restricted products.

In its submission to the consultation on the Bill, ACS outlined its support for the proposed Bill and the creation of a new statutory offence for attacks on shopworkers who are enforcing age restrictions. The ACS 2018 Crime Report found that challenging shop thieves is the number one trigger for violence against staff. Additionally, enforcing an age-restricted sales policy and refusing to serve drunks are also top causes for aggressive / abusive behaviour by customers on staff.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We fully support the creation of a new offence to deter people from committing violence or abuse against shopworkers that are upholding the law by refusing to sell age restricted products. Abuse against retailers’ and their staff in any context is unacceptable, but we need clarity in legislation to ensure that those who attack, threaten or harass people working in stores are dealt with seriously and consistently.”

Over the past year, there has been an estimated 13,437 incidents of violence in the convenience sector across the UK, 39% of which result in the injury of a retailer or a staff member. Specifically, in Scotland, 57% of independent retailers have stated that they have experienced verbal or physical abuse in the past year.