Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping has urged the public to show greater respect towards shop workers and retail staff as he voiced his support to Usdaw’s Respect for Shopworkers’ Week.
The annual event of the trade union, which runs from 16 to 22 November this year, raises awareness of its year-round Freedom from Fear campaign, which aims to protect shop workers from abuse and violence from customers.
“I wholeheartedly support National Respect for Shopworkers’ Week and the Freedom from Fear campaign. Retail workers play a crucial role in our communities and this has been demonstrated throughout the pandemic when as key workers they put their own safety at risk to serve others,” Tipping said.
He said the increase in violence towards shop workers during the pandemic is “shocking and warrants urgent attention.”
“Retail workers provide a public service and deserve respect and appreciation for what they do. It is simply unacceptable that any of them should face abuse while performing their job,” he said.
The annual survey by Usdaw has found that abuse against shop workers has been worse than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, as incidents of violence and aggression against shop workers had doubled.
The union said the average shop worker had been assaulted, threatened or abused every 6.5 days during the first wave of the pandemic.
Tipping asked employers to give staff the confidence to speak out and report abuse and urged shop workers to report to police the incidents they feel threatened, intimidated or are assaulted by a customer.
During this year’s campaign, Usdaw is also promoting its parliamentary petition calling on the government to legislate to protect shop workers.
The Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill promoted by Alex Norris MP was timetabled for its second reading in the House of Commons, but delayed until 8 January with the government raising objections.
Usdaw’s petition currently has over 76,000 signatures and the union is aiming for the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a parliamentary debate.