Retailers association demands same law in UK as Scotland’s new workers act

Rearview shot of a young woman shopping at a grocery store

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is calling on the UK Government to implement the same legislation in England and Wales as enforced in Scotland from Tuesday (24) that will make assaulting or abusing retail staff a standalone offence.

Weeks ahead when Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is scheduled to go to the Lords with its second reading, the BRC has called on peers to demand similar legislation in the UK and Wales.

Shopworkers in Scotland now will be better protected as the new Protection of Workers act has come into force.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Retail workers in Dundee are now better protected than those in Doncaster.

“It is incomprehensible that despite Holyrood’s decisive action, the UK Government has so far failed to provide the same protections to shop workers in the rest of the UK.

“Retail workers have done an incredible job supporting us throughout this pandemic; they should not have to go to work fearing for their safety. We have campaigned long and hard for retail workers to receive better protections through a standalone offence, and we will not stop until our asks are met,” she said.

As per BRC, retail violence has worsened in the last full year, despite retailers spending a record £1.2 billion on safety measures, including security staff, body cameras and panic alarms.

The latest figures by the BRC found that violence has escalated further during the pandemic as retail staff tried to implement mandatory Covid safety measures as compared to pre-pandemic times when the most common trigger for the violence was when staff used to ask customers for ID in the case of age-restricted items, BRC said.

Labour’s shadow Home Office minister Sarah Jones said: “The Conservatives have failed to take action to protect shop workers in England and Wales from a rising epidemic of attacks.

“Ministers must listen to workers on the front line who are saying loud and clear that abuse must not be part of the job.

“Labour has called for a new standalone offence with a 12-month prison sentence for abuse, threats, and violence against retail workers.”