Retail specific cases of assault and abuse of staff have increased by 50 per cent year on year in 2023, latest figures have shown.
By the end of November, there were 2,233 reported assaults and 2,582 reports of threatening or abusive behaviour under the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021, according to the figures compiled by Police Scotland for the Guardian. Both represent a 50 per cent increase from the previous year.
The Act, which came into force on 24 August 2021, provides a new specific offence for assaulting, threatening or abusing a shop worker and a harsher sentence if they were enforcing a statutory age restriction, resulting in a fine with penalties escalating to a prison sentence.
“No one should face violence at work, yet we’ve seen a further escalation of that around shop theft with the cost of living crisis creating a perfect storm,” Daniel Johnson MSP, who promoted the member’s bill, told the newspaper.
“Retail workers tell me their day-to-day reality means routinely wearing body-worn cameras and fearing violence and aggression, whether its people hurling abuse if asked for proof of age or throwing punches when challenged about shop lifting.”
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation’s annual Retail Crime Report has found that 100 per cent of respondents experience shop theft at least once a day and all experience abuse, violence or hate crime on a regular basis.