I’m supporting Usdaw’s call for legislation to protect shopworkers.

Statistics released by the Office of National Statistics this week show a 14% rise in the number of police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade, which Usdaw highlight as the main trigger for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

The union are calling for tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers, and a change to the out of court disposals system (including the issuing of fixed penalty notices) which they say is failing to have an impact on reoffending.

According to Usdaw’s most recent survey of thousands of retail staff, and average shopworker is abused, threatened or assaulted more than 21 times a year – nearly once a fortnight.

Usdaw are absolutely right that violence and abuse should not be a part of the job for shopworkers. The calls from trade unionists and many retailers for tougher penalties for those who assault shopworkers, and the introduction of a stand-alone offence which can be understood by the public, courts and criminals, is a sensible one. The law as it stands is not adequately protecting vulnerable workers who are such an important part of our economy and our communities.

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