Retail trade union Usdaw is calling for more action to ensure that abuse, threats and violence against shopworkers are taken seriously after another survey shows that incidents are on the increase.

New figures from The Institute of Customer Service revealed that 44% of frontline service staff have experienced hostility from customers in the past six months, a rise from 35% in February. It comes as new powers come into force today, which will allow for stiffer penalties for those who attack and abuse shopworkers. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 was given royal assent in April.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “This survey is further confirmation of the scale of the problem retail staff face on a daily basis. Usdaw’s latest research found that 9 in 10 retail workers suffered abuse from customers last year, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Particularly concerning was the one-third increase in assaults. 

“The Government has taken a step in the right direction by making the assault a public-facing worker a statutory aggravating factor when sentencing. However that relies on the police responding to incidents, the CPS prosecuting the case and a guilty verdict. Regrettably too many incidents do not get through to sentencing, which is a big part of why nearly two-thirds of shopworkers say they are not confident that reporting incidents will make any difference.

“Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse, and with shopworkers’ almost complete lack of confidence in the ability of the system to give them the protection they need, much more needs to be done. The Government must provide the coordination needed to ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safe places for our members to work and for customers to shop.”

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