Tesco boss has called for tougher laws for abuse or violence towards retail workers, stated recent reports, adding that staff at the supermarket stores will be offered body cameras to tackle rising violent attacks.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday (3), Tesco boss Ken Murphy called for tougher laws targeting offenders.
He noted changes had been made to make attacking a shop worker an aggravating factor in convictions, but wants “abuse or violence towards retail workers” to be made an offence in itself.
Murphy called for the change to bring England and Wales in line with Scotland, where the Protection of Worker’s Bill makes it an offence to assault, threaten or abuse retail staff. He also called for the supermarket to have the right to be kept informed about how a case proceeds.
“Crime is a scourge on society, and an insult to shoppers and retail workers. It is time we put an end to it,” he added, saying the abuse suffered was “heartbreaking”.
Similar action has already been taken by Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Co-op amid spike in shoplifting and violent attitude of rising number of rowdy shoppers.
It mirrors findings by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) published earlier this year, which found abuse against retail staff had almost doubled compared to pre-Covid levels. In its Crime Survey published in March, it recorded more than 850 daily incidents in 2021-22, a steep rise from pre-Covid level of 450 a day in 2019-20.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Policing Minister Chris Philp said police forces should start to look at every crime where there is CCTV footage, even in instances where the theft is of goods worth less than £200.
“It should not be tolerated at any level – I expect a zero tolerance approach to this criminality,” he said.
These incidents included racial and sexual abuse, something it said was having a “huge emotional and physical impact on people”.
In July, food retailer Co-op warned that some communities could become “no-go” areas for the company due to the rising levels of crime, which it said had increased by more than a third in the past year.
Co-op cited a Freedom of Information request to highlight that retail crime does not seem like a priority with 71 per cent of serious retail crime not responded to by police.
The supermarket is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, which has said staff in John Lewis stores have also been given bodycams and de-escalation training to deal with a rise in incidents. Sainsbury’s has used body-worn cameras since 2018, a policy it was one of “a number of security measures” to support customer and colleague safety.