By Jan Bunker, Store Manager, Southampton – Ocean Village store

You might have heard my story before. I used to manage our Nursling store, just North West of Southampton.

This year we’ve had six armed robberies. One time, four masked men entered my shop with crow bars to steal our cash just as we were opening up. It was frightening. It made my stomach turn inside out and backwards. It’s difficult because now I’m always on the look out and I just don’t trust people in the same way. That’s why I’m so passionate about the Safer Colleague, Safer Communities campaign.

Towards the end of last year we worked with David Hanson MP to encourage an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill to give shop workers protection from abuse and threatening behaviour.

Now the Government are asking for evidence to help them understand the true scale of violence and abuse towards shop staff. This is where we need your help by sharing your stories and how it made you feel:

  • If you’ve been directly affected by an attack or threatening behaviour
  • If you’ve witnessed someone else being attacked or threatened
  • If a family member has witnessed someone being attacked or threatened

Share your story by emailing and

Here are some materials to help you tell your story.
I’m sharing mine. Are you sharing yours?

Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. As a Store Manager in Brighton its been getting consistently worse in recent years. We have professional shop lifter’s stealing a hundred pounds worth of coffee or baby food at a time. Homeless people stealing alcohol just to get them through the day. Drug addicts stealing anything they can sell on to get their next fix and then even people who are stealing food to survive because their budget doesn’t feed the family. 3 years ago in the majority of cases when you challenged someone they gave it back and would just leave quietly. Now we get verbal abuse on a daily basis and earlier this week one of my colleagues was assaulted by a shop lifter he asked to leave. He 999’ed the incident but the police were too busy to attend and we haven’t heard back from them 3 days later (we actually gave them the guys name as well as he’s known). They simply don’t have the resources to take action. Combine that with the increasing desperation of the offenders its a melting pot that genuinely scares me for the future.

  2. I’d like to echo the request to colleagues to ensure they let the Home Office know of any violent incidents that have affected them.

    As a direct result of the concern for the levels of crime and violence affecting colleagues, the Co-op brought me in as a seconded senior Police Leader in 2017 (I’m now a colleague). I was shocked and appalled at the levels of violence and abuse that Co-op colleagues were facing on a daily basis, far more than I had to face in my 26 years of Police service.

    Working together with senior leaders and colleagues across the Co-op the Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign was launched. Having been to many external partner meetings (including lots with the Home office and senior Police leaders) to ensure they fully understand the issues that you face, I would go as far as to say the call for evidence can be attributed to the Co-op’s commitment and determination to tackle this very serious issue.

    I completely understand the frustration with reduced Police resources and how long it takes to contact them to report a crime.
    The sad truth is that if you don’t report it then they don’t know about it and cannot allocate and prioritise resources. This then also creates a false representation of the level of crime and violence that is occurring in our communities and the government doesn’t have the full picture to allocate funding. Please report any incidents that affect you or your colleagues.

    To any colleagues affected by violence and abuse at work I would urge you to just take the time to tell the Home Office about your experience and how it has affected you and/or your family.

    As Paul says it is our opportunity to influence the Government on a very serious issue that affects lots of colleagues every day.

    You deserve to be listened to and you deserve to feel safe at work.


  3. I’ve worked for the Co op nearly 24 years and in that time managed stores in different areas from Blackpool to Huddersfield. I’ve witnessed intimidation, physical assualts and robbeiries. I’ve been assaulted myself and felt helpless to defend my team from everyday verbal abuse, from members of the public who feel they have the right to take out their frustrations on retail colleagues.

    I am 100% behind this campagn and applaud the Co op for challanging goverment to change legislation, this is one of the ways to reduce the number of incidents. Every member of staff should feel safe at work and not suffer any type of abuse. Please encourage all colleagues to email their experiances.

  4. Unfortunately the only thing the government can do is put more police on the streets. They know this. Therefore this exercise is just to shut us up for a bit. The only outcome they can have from this that will help, is more police. We now live in a lawless state. We have shopliftings daily. Drive offs. I witness illegal driving, illegal mods on cars, people wandering the streets high as a kite on spice and other narcotics. The police haven’t a prayer of catching them and we don’t have the time to report them to the overstretched 101 service (which can take an hour to get through), therefore we don’t bother reporting most of them.

    I’d gladly pay an extra 50-100 quid on my council tax for extra policing (and I wouldn’t describe myself as well-off). I’d gladly see police on every corner. But it wont happen. Not under this government anyway.

  5. I was in a arm robby last may there was 3 man that came in with axe & hamer in horwich co-op

    • Hi Julie

      Every email helps, so please do take part in the campaign and share your story using the details above.


    • Julie

      I know the shop well as I grew up just down the road in Adlington; I hope you are ok.

      If you can please send your experience into the Home Office because Government needs to understand what happens and what impact it has on people – the link above can help you do that and it should only take few minutes to do.

      Best wishes


  6. I have worked and the store got held by knife point which I was working, it left me always waiting for the next time, I actually quit my Job for a short time, I was jumpy and always scared. We have recently had our exit door window smashed because he was refused sale as the lad had no ID, one of my colleagues have had verbal abuse shouted at her which I find most stores get.

    • Hi Susan

      Every email helps, so please do take part in the campaign and share your story using the details above.


    • Susan

      I hope you are ok and am pleased you are back at work.

      As Jan suggests, if you feel able send an account of what happened because Government needs to understand what happens and what impact it has – the link above can help you do that and it should only take few minutes to do. This is our chance to influence what Government does about this.

      Best wishes


  7. Dear Jan and all,

    I have just read your email and three examples of colleagues documenting their dreadful experiences of being intimidated and also violence.

    I work for Funeralcare and it may sound completely insignificant in comparison but I have had incident with I am sorry to say but teenage girls shouting aggressively through the door at me, and trying to push in through the locked door.

    This won’t be of any use to the Home Office in comparison, but I have reported to police and the girls were apprehended and had follow up meetings away from here.

    I am shocked to learn of your colleagues who have suffered and their families too. It’s so bad that culprits don’t realise or consider the effects of their greed for getting something for nothing by bullying and violence.

    It’s time the Home Office stood up and took action to support those in shops, as we all have the right to work and not be threatened. My husband used to work for a High Street bank some years ago and had someone place a note saying he had a gun and to hand over money. It was after he came home that the effects occurred.

    Hope you and your colleagues in your branch and the other people recalling are okay and their families too.

    Kind regards


    The Co-operative Funeralcare 193 High Street Bromley Kent BR1 1NN

    020 8460 7788 ________________________________

    • Hi Christine

      Every email helps, so please do take part in the campaign and share your story using the details above.


    • Christine

      I hope you are ok and thanks for sharing with us. One of our Co-op values is solidarity and its great to see we are all together on this.

      I think you can share this with the Home Office but also how it makes you feel to know that colleagues in store face this level of abuse. If you can share those feelings with the Home Office.

      Best wishes and thanks again


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