Urgent action is needed to protect shopworkers, Scottish Labour politician Daniel Johnson has warned in a letter addressed to the new Chief Constable of Police Scotland, highlighting that there have been almost 8,000 reported cases of shopworker abuse or assault since August 2021.
Johnson had introduced the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 in order to tackle the abuse that too many shopworkers face, but since the law was introduced it has been used a staggering 7,955 times.
Johnson’s letter was co-signed by the Scottish Retail Consortium, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, the Federation of Independent Retailers, Usdaw, the Scottish Co-Op Party, and GMB Scotland.
Johnson said, “It is a scandal that so many shopworkers face violence and abuse at work.
“Workers are too often bearing the brunt of retail crime, and the astonishing number of crimes being reported exposes the scale of this crisis. The new legal protection offered by my bill was an important step forward, but it must be backed up with a comprehensive plan to prevent these crimes as well as prosecute them.
“Shopworkers must be safe at work and the SNP must ensure the new Chief Constable has the support and resources she needs to make that a reality.”
The Fed’s Scottish president Hussan Lal said, “The fact that shop crime is going up not down confirms that many more measures are needed. The Fed is campaigning for a £1,500 grant towards a security upgrade for small shopkeepers. They struggle to afford the tech which would protect them and help police enquiries.
“Above all, shopkeepers would like to see a policy commitment from the police to treat the shop crime epidemic as a priority.”
David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium said, “It’s utterly unacceptable whenever shopworkers face abuse, intimidation or violence whilst serving the community.
“Despite better legal protections and record spending by retailers on crime prevention, it’s clear more needs to be done to protect the skilled and passionate colleagues who help make our industry such a vibrant place to work; let alone to bear down on rising levels of anti-social behaviour and thefts.
“A greater level of prioritisation must be given to retail crime and responding to incidents, with the police and courts having the direction and resources they need to tackle this blight and ensure the perpetrators face the consequences.”