Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins has agreed to meet with retail representative bodies and trade unions to discuss violence against retailers and shopworkers following
amendments tabled to the Offence Weapons Bill by David Hanson MP.
The amendments proposed tougher sanctions for attacks on shopworkers that are “intentionally obstructed” in exercising their duties, for example enforcing age restrictions on products. David Hanson MP spoke to the amendments stating: “Shop staff are upholding the law on our behalf, and they deserve protection… the Association of Convenience Stores has identified violence to staff as the most significant risk in the sector.”
The amendments were supported by ACS, other trade bodies, Usdaw the shopworkers union and by Members of Parliament from across the House. ACS’ Crime Report estimates there were over 13,000 incidents of violence committed against retailers and staff over the last year, over a third of which resulted in injury and that enforcing age restrictions is one of the main flash points for violence and abuse.
Responding to the amendments, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins MP, committed to meet with retail representative bodies and unions to discuss the issue further: “I agree that we want to ensure that our shop workers feel protected, as well as being protected, by the law. If I may, I will reflect further on new clause 1, and I invite … organisations involved in the retail arena, including trade unions, to the Home Office for a roundtable so we can further discuss the concerns that have been raised this afternoon.”
ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Convenience store colleagues are on the front line enforcing the law on age-restricted products, and should not feel threatened for doing their job. We are pleased the issue has been debated in parliament and that the Minister has committed to meet to discuss this issues further.”
“The Government relies on retailers and store colleagues to uphold the law, so we want back-up from police and the criminal justice system to send a clear message that violence and verbal abuse is not acceptable and will be acted on.”