The introduction of a Bill in Parliament calling for tougher sentences for those who assault retail workers has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The Bill seeks to make offences against retail workers aggravated, which would increase the options for more serious sentences for those convicted.

Presenting the Bill as a Ten Minute Rule motion in Parliament on Monday March 16, Alex Norris MP said: “Experiences of abuse, threats and violence can have long-term effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of shopworkers. Shopworkers and those across the retail sector face a daily barrage of threats, attacks and peril.

“Retailers and their staff are a cornerstone of our local communities, yet every day hundreds of retail workers are suffering shocking abuse at work and despite the exponential rise in violence we are seeing an ever decreasing response from our police forces that have been so stretched by ten years of cuts, especially to neighbourhood policing teams.”

Figures from the latest ACS Crime Report show that over the last year, there have been more than 50,000 incidents of violence and abuse committed against shopworkers. Additionally, 83% of people working in local shops have been subject to verbal abuse over the last year.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Incidents of violence and abuse against people working in local shops are far too common. We welcome the attention that this Bill will give to this issue, and will continue to work with the Home Office, the National Business Crime Centre and local police forces to find the right ways to stop repeat offenders that target retailers and their colleagues who are just doing their job.”

The Ten Minute Rule motion passed unopposed and will be added to the register of Parliamentary business. The Bill is scheduled to receive its second reading on Friday April 24.