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    Over 500 convictions under Scottish Protection of Workers Act

    Photo: iStock

    There had been more than 500 convictions under the Protection of Workers Act, which created a specific offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing those working in retail, official figures showed.

    Statistics released this week by the Scottish government show that in the 11 months to November 2023, there were 2,233 alleged incidents recorded under Protection of Workers Act, equivalent to roughly seven a day.

    Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, who introduced the Protection of Workers Bill at Holyrood, said: “These shocking figures show how many shop workers face violence and harassment at work. Retail crime in Scotland is reaching crisis point and retail staff are bearing the brunt.”

    Retail trade union Usdaw has called on Westminster to support an extension of this protection for shop workers to the rest of the UK by backing a Labour amendment to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill.

    “The UK government has repeatedly failed to act in the face of an epidemic of retail crime and rising theft from shops. It is deeply disappointing that there are no measures in their legislative programme to tackle high levels of theft from shops and abuse of shop workers,” Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary said.

    “A protection of shop workers law, which already exists in Scotland, would be a great start to tackling abuse of retail staff.”

    The government has last week rejected an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, tabled by Labour MP Alex Norris, that would have made it an offence to assault, threaten or abuse a retail worker.

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