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    FWD urges to include wholesale workers in new retail crime action plan

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak walks in Horsham West Sussex accompanied by local MP Sir Jeremy Quinn and local Police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne as he highlights the governments plans to tackle shop lifting on April 10, 2024 in Horsham, England. (Photo by Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

    Food and drink wholesalers have welcomed prime minister Rishi Sunak’s tough new action plan to crack down on retail crime and protect UK highstreets, calling on to “adopt an inclusive definition to protect those who face violence daily” in wholesale sector.

    According to the announcement made today (10), assaulting a retail worker will be made a standalone criminal offence. The move to create the new offence follows longstanding campaigning on this issue from Matt Vickers MP, and some of the biggest retailers, calling for more action to better protect their staff. 

    Welcoming the announcement of making a standalone offence for assaulting a retail worker in the Criminal Justice Bill, wholesalers’ body Federation of Wholesalers and Distributors (FWD) has asked for clarification of “retail worker”.

    FWD states on social media, “While this is a step in the right direction, we look forward to seeing the government’s definition of ‘retail worker’ and will work to ensure that colleagues working in the wholesale sector are included in the definition and protected by these new measures.

    “Ahead of further details being finalised, we call on the government to adopt an inclusive definition to protect those who face violence daily in our sector when simply doing their job. Crime in the wholesale sector is at an all-time high and we hope that this offence sends a clear message that violence against colleagues in our sector will be met with tough consequences.”

    The government is also stepping up action to clamp down on offenders who repeatedly target the country’s high streets, with serial offenders forced to wear tags to track their movements. 

    These tags will be a constant and physical reminder to offenders that the Probation Service can find out where they have been and when, and that they risk being sent to prison if they refuse to obey the rules. Under an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, if an offender is found guilty of assaulting staff three times, or is sentenced for shoplifting on three separate occasions, they should be made to wear a tag as part of any community order.

    Ahead of this legislation coming in, the government will partner with a police force to pilot a bespoke package of community sentencing measures which can be used by judges to tackle high levels of shoplifting, sending a clear message that repeat criminality will not be tolerated.

    The government is also ramping up the use of facial recognition technology to help catch perpetrators and prevent shoplifting in the first place. Backed by a £55.5m investment over the next four years, the police will be able to further roll this new state-of-the-art technology. This will include £4m for bespoke mobile units that can be deployed to high streets across the country with live facial recognition used in crowded areas to identify people wanted by the police – including repeat shoplifters.

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