Every Thursday, when MPs are in Parliament, the following weeks ‘Westminster Business’ is published. So, when I noticed that there was going to be a Westminster Hall debate on retail crime, I knew this was a key opportunity to engage on the Safer Colleagues Safer Communities campaign.

When we start a new campaign we build a list of key MPs, from all parties, who have shown interest in the subject. It can be a waste of everyone’s time bombarding all 650 of them as they all have their key issues and campaigns that they spend their time on. Although as a campaign builds, so does the list.

Then we decide what we want to say. For Safer Colleagues Safer Communities, we want our colleague’s voices to be heard so our Risk team gather the reported incident data and match these to MPs constituencies. This provides real insight to the MPs of what Co-op colleagues face in their local area on a daily basis.

We also provide an update to the MPs on investment we’ve made, and local partnerships that we’re building to look to tackle the root causes of crime – one of the key commitments in our campaign.

At the moment, there are lots of last minute changes in Westminster, and yesterday’s debate was no exception. It ended up clashing with a statement that the Prime Minister gave following her latest trip to Brussels, but it didn’t deter the 20 MPs that took part in the Westminster Hall debate on the prevention of retail crime. The MP who led the debate, Rt Hon David Hanson MP thanked the Co-op for all our work in this area and read a quote from Jo Whitfield:

Nothing is more important than colleague safety, as a result the Co-op has spent over £70m over the last three years on innovative crime security and safety measures. However, it is clear to the Co-op that they need support from the Police, judiciary and Parliament to make sure that violence against retail workers is not tolerated.

The debate had a specific focus on shoplifting as well as aggressive and violent behaviour and we were mentioned by a number of MPs. Susan Elan Jones MP read the stories that we had shared with her directly from the briefing note. Ruth George MP welcomed the £70 million we’ve spent on security, and encouraged all retailers to do the same. Jim McMahon MP mentioned his visit to a Co-op store over the Respect for Shopworkers week in November 2018, and the feedback he had received from colleagues in store. Other MPs mentioned their store visits and highlighted that they were members and proud Co-op shoppers.

You can see the full debate here.

It’s great to see we have a leading position on this issue and it’ll now be key for us to be using that position to influence Parliament and Government to provide greater protection for shopworkers.

Nicky Phillips
Public Affairs Officer

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Really good work Nicky. I know how much hard work goes into making these things happen!

  2. I think this is a broader issue than just violence against shopworkers. I’ve seen in the local community the impact of youths hanging around outside stores, loitering and causing mischief and havoc to loyal customers and community members even before going into the store. Not sure whether this is just down to lack of decent activities in the area for youths or poor parenting. But if you want to stop people from going into the stores and causing harm, it starts outside at the community and in particular the youths.

    • I couldn’t agree more – what we see in our stores and what affects our colleagues is a symptom of what is happening in communities which is why the campaign is Safer Colleagues Safer Communities – see the report here:


      What this particular debate was about was about the issues affecting shopworkers but you may have seen coverage on here of Chris Whitfield, Co-op’s Retail Chief Operating Officer, attending the Prime Minister’s Serious Youth Violence – the only retailer to do so – which looked at the underlying causes of crime in communities, Indeed, through our Local Community Fund we have already provided £10m of funding to 4000 local causes who are providing all kinds of services to young people to help them do different things than get dragged into this kind of violence and anti-social behaviour. Yu can read more in Chris’ letter or the letter Jo Whitfield wrote to the Home Secretary on the same issue.

      Both elements of the campaign are critical. What we are doing with David Hanson and others is about protecting colleagues here and now from attacks which are happening here and now. What we are in communities is about trying to fix the underlying problems so in the future our colleagues are working in communities which are less violent.

      Safer Colleagues AND Safer Communities.


  3. Thanks it was interesting to read the work that goes in to mounting a campaign . Much appreciated .

    • Barbara

      thanks and Nicky has done an amazing job…of course, we are doing it because of the mandate given by the National Members Council to campaign on the issue of Safer Colleagues Safer Communities

      Best wishes


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