The Home Office has notified the National Retail Crime Steering Group that an amendment has been tabled which would make attacking a retail worker an aggravated offence, resulting in tougher sentencing for offenders, the ACS, a member of the group, has revealed.
The government has previously indicated on several occasions that it would consider an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the Lords to address the issue of tougher sentencing.
With over 40,000 shop workers experiencing violence and 89 per cent experiencing verbal abuse over the past year, trade bodies and retailers have repeatedly called on the government to act and send a clear message that it takes crimes against shop workers seriously.
“We strongly welcome the tabling of this amendment, which the retail sector has been calling for over a number of years. It’s essential that the penalties for attacking a shop worker act as an effective deterrent,” James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said.
“Introducing tougher sentences for those who attack people providing a service to the public, including shop workers, marks a significant step forward, but it does not solve the problem by itself. We need to ensure that abuse is not seen as part of the job and that all incidents are reported, and in response, Police and Crime Commissioners must prioritise crimes committed against retailers and their colleagues. We must also put the right interventions in place to stop those with substance and alcohol dependencies from reoffending.”
The amendment is due to be debated during the Report stage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the House of Lords, scheduled to take place later this month.
Figures from the 2021 ACS Crime Report also show that there were over 1.1 million incidents of theft over the last year, many of which committed by repeat offenders with a drug or alcohol addiction.
The report also shows that there have been over 1.2 million incidents of abuse over the last year, which often go unreported. There is a clear link between theft and abuse, with challenging shop thieves being one of the top triggers for escalating incidents of abuse and violence in store.