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    Usdaw backs petition seeking protection of retail workers

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    Retail trade union Usdaw is urging the public to back shopworkers by signing a new House of Commons petition that seeks to protect retail workers from violence, threats and abuse by extending the Scottish protection of workers law to the rest of the UK.

    The petition has been launched in the face of an epidemic of shoplifting that has a real impact on the safety of shopworkers. It has gained 13, 185 signatures by today (16).

    The petition says, “We are calling on the Government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence. This is necessary to send a strong signal to victims and perpetrators; to give workers the legal protection they deserve; and to tackle the scourge of abuse plaguing the retail sector.

    “The British Retail Consortium’s crime survey found that violence and abuse against retail workers has almost doubled from more than 450 incidents per day in 2019-20 to over 850 last year. This is unacceptable. Last year, after a long-running campaign by retailers and USDAW, the UK Government made attacking shopworkers an aggravating factor in assault convictions. This was welcome but, one year on with the epidemic of violence against colleagues continuing, it is clear that we need to go further.”

     
    Reacting to the petition, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, has welcomed the petition, saying that Usdaw is urging its members and the wider shopping public to sign up and show the government that they have been wrong to repeatedly block extending the Scottish protection of workers law to the rest of the UK.
     
    “We are facing an epidemic of retail crime, which is hugely concerning. Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals in the stores and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who are stealing to sell goods on.
     
    “Usdaw research shows that last year, shoplifting and armed robbery were the trigger for over a third of instances of threats, abuse and violence towards our members, more than double the rate in 2016. This evidence shows that retail crime and abuse of shopworkers is getting significantly worse.
     
    “Labour has committed to give shopworkers ‘Freedom From Fear’ and deliver on our campaign objectives. Last week Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper committed the next Labour Government to: 13,000 more neighbourhood police with guaranteed patrols in town centres; Respect Orders to ban repeat offenders from town centres; a standalone offence for assaulting a public service worker and will end the £200 threshold for investigating and prosecuting shop theft. This petition offers the current Government a last chance before the election to take a step in the right direction,” Lillis said.

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