Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has called for Government action in light of Press Association statistics showing a 7% increase in theft from supermarkets over the last four years.

Last week the Office for National Statistics reported a 30% increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade. Usdaw’s survey of shopworkers shows a 25% increase in violence, suggesting there are over 230 assaulted every day. Challenging shop thieves is a common trigger for violence and verbal abuse.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says:
“The idea that shoplifting is a victimless crime is wrong. Theft from shops is often a trigger for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The rising trend in shoplifting is extremely worrying for our members. The evidence from retailers, police and our own survey of shopworkers all show a disturbing increase in retail crime. This cannot be allowed to continue, action must be taken.

“Police resources are so stretched we now have some chief constables reporting that their officers can no longer attend incidents of theft from shops and they are asking shopworkers to detain shoplifters.

“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers, there needs to be government action to protect them. The police must have the resources from Government to respond to incidents and investigate shop thefts. We want the Government to legislate for stiffer sentences for the thugs that attack shopworkers. They have the opportunity to do that in the Offensive Weapons Bill and we hope they will support amendments being tabled by Peers.

“We want to see retailers, police and the courts working in partnership to ensure better protection for shopworkers. Retail staff are an important part of our communities; their role must be valued, respected and protected.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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