Vertical Markets

Online petition for retail protection

by Mark Rowe

An online petition is calling for protection of retail staff from violence, threats and abuse, by a ‘specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker’. It’s by the shop workers’ trade union Usdaw, and backed by the convenience store retailer Co-op Food, pictured; and the UK trade bodies the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are delighted that the petition has already reached the first milestone, which requires the Government to respond. It is no surprise, because this is a hugely important issue for our members and, with incidents of abuse doubling during the Covid-19 crisis they are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.

“I am grateful to the employers for supporting the petition. When retailers and the trade union for shop workers unite in a call for action, it should be time for the Government to sit up, listen to our concerns and deliver much needed protection for staff.

“I urge the Government to respond positively to my petition, listen to the voices of shop workers and employers and commit to legislating for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. They have talked about zero-tolerance, but that means very little if it is not backed up by strong actions.

“The measures the Government have agreed are worth trying and we hope that they can make a real difference. However they would be much more likely to succeed if backed up with new legislation; a simple standalone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.

“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”


The ACS says that its Covid-19 Impact Survey revealed that violence and verbal abuse has increased in 40pc of stores since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops are a lifeline for the communities that they serve, and this has been particularly evident during the Covid-19 crisis where our colleagues have worked tirelessly to ensure that they can continue to feed their customers. It is unacceptable that our members and their colleagues are facing violence and abuse whilst trying to do their job, these incidents are devastating for the colleagues affected.

“Enough is enough, we need the Government to take effective and urgent action to protect shop workers and send a clear message to perpetrators that violent and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.”

You can view the petition at

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