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    Scottish retailer demands to tackle retail crime crisis before ‘some worker loses life’

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    A Scottish show owner has called on First Minister Humza Yousaf to pledge more police support to protect workers, saying he will have “blood on his hands” if he does not act now.

    Jennifer Paton, of Eddy’s Food Station in Greenock, has warned that a retail worker might lose their life someday if the country does not get to grips with a soaring retail crime crisis. Figures from the British Retail Consortium have revealed violence and abuse against shop workers rose to 1300 incidents a day last year across the UK – up 50 per cent on the previous year.

    Scottish retailers say the threat facing staff north of the border is so serious ministers should make retail crime a top priority in the next Scottish policing plan.

    Paton told Daily Record how her staff have been left “terrified” after facing customers with machetes and metal bars.

    She said, “Somebody is going to die before they take notice. I would say to Humza Yousaf, ‘get your finger out and start focusing on this as a priority’.

    “We’ve taken too much money out of policing now that we just don’t have enough support. God forbid someone ends up losing their life because of this, because the blood will be on Humza Yousaf’s hands.”

    “My team are terrified. I’ve seen customers pulling out weapons and trying to assault my staff. They’ve been disgustingly racist and used words you would recoil hearing.

    “We’ve seen glasses, knives, bars, machetes – you name it. We had a shoplifter last night. The police aren’t coming out until Thursday because they don’t deem one of my 63-year-old team members being verbally assaulted and threatened as something serious.

    “It’s a kick to the stomach. To feel completely disregarded is really disappointing. Nobody is scared of the police or the repercussions. We need to thank a lot of our customers for things not escalating. Myself and my team are ready to stand up and protect each other, but that’s not what you go to work to do.”

    Ewan MacDonald-Russell, deputy head of the Scottish Retail Consortium, believes “horrific” figures are triggered by the cost of living crisis.

    “There is a huge gap between the crimes that are happening and the crimes that police are able to respond to to deal with, that’s only on the abuse side. We want to see the Scottish policing plan have a priority on retail crime to get to the core of this. Ministers need to find the right resources… that means opening up the Government purse strings.”

    Dr Pete Cheema OBE, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) Chief Executive, said staff are resigning in fear amid the retail crime crisis.

    He said, “The British Retail Consortium report matches our own findings for Scotland. There has been a significant upsurge in shop theft cases involving organised groups, targeting local stores.

    Some of our retail members now report that staff are resigning because they are scared to come to work. People should not have to turn up knowing they will likely have to deal with threats, abuse, and violent behaviour. It is not only staff wellbeing and businesses that are being impacted by these crimes, but families and the wider community.

    “Police Scotland are very clearly overstretched and many of the people committing these crimes know that there is little to no risk of any consequences from their actions. Only the most serious crimes are investigated, and often it takes hours for officers to attend the scene. This lack of support also has a big impact on reporting figures.”

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