By Jo Whitfield, Food CEO

You’ll know that the Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign is something I’m really passionate about. That’s why we’re doing all we can to help colleagues feel safer and raise awareness of verbal and physical abuse towards shop workers with the people that can make a difference.

Earlier this year, we asked Dr Emmeline Taylor, a criminologist from the University of London, to carry out research on the issue and today we’re sharing that research with the government and the media.

This report supports the home office campaign we got invol vived in before the summer where over 600 of our amazing colleagues shared their stories. Some of these stories feature in the research and I’d like to thank everyone that got involved, I truly believe this will make a difference.

This research, for the first time ever, shows the impact and motivations of violence in the retail industry. It shows that this abuse is having lasting effects on the lives of workers, both mentally and physically and also shows some of the root causes of why people chose to carry out these acts.

You can read the full report here and we’ve also pulled the key messages into an infographic so you can share with your teams and on social media.

new infographic
Emmeline and I will be taking the report findings to the Labour and Conservative party conferences this month to ask them to consider the recommendations which include;

  • A review of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (ASBCPA) 2014, specifically to consider the impact that financial values set in the Act have had on levels of theft.
  • Introduce new legislation which would carry higher penalties for attacks where the shop worker is enforcing the law on age-restricted sales, such as cigarettes or alcohol.
  • Change expectations regarding age-restricted sales to move the onus onto customers to voluntarily prove their age as opposed to shop workers having to enforce the legislation.
  • Measure hate-motivated offences in shops and provide adequate support for those targeted.
  • Deal with the root causes with better mental health provision and drug treatment programs.

We’re continuing to invest in technology, equipment and training to make colleagues feel safer. Some of the recent trials we’ve done have had really great results and we’re currently rolling out our remote monitored CCTV into more shops.

We’ll continue to campaign outside of the Co-op to make sure this matter is taken seriously and show it’s not part of the job to be verbally abused, threatened or attacked.

Thanks, Jo

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Is this why the Co-op keep cutting hours in store, leaving us even more vulnerable to abuse and attacks, especially when when you end up with only 2 in store, and queuing down the isles, delivery in the back shop, no one to work it, and customers getting irate having to wait, yes the Co-op is doing nothing but adding to the problem, I use to love my job, have been there 28yrs, and never know it so bad

  2. I am so glad as a company we are in the forefront. As a manager Iv work in the same place for 7 years. We had hardly any incidents but now we can have upto 5 day. Everyone has to take responsibility for this to improve. From government to the general public

    • Angela

      the growth has been frightening and I hope you and your colleagues are ok; you’re right this will only be solved by all playing the part – no one individuald or body can fix this


  3. I had no idea that shop workers were at such risk, I am glad I read this article and that the Co-op are doing what they can to protect colleagues.

    • Emma

      a key part of all our campaigns is awareness of the issue – by the public and by the decision-makers – which is why this research is so important.

      Best wishes


  4. I can see that the nationwide increase in crime and decrease in prosecutions brought on by the inevitable cuts to policing is a big factor. Will the impact of a no-deal brexit along with the “Yellowhammer” report prediction of social unrest and shortages of food and medicine hamper our efforts to reduce this violence directed at staff?

    • Bob

      and I thought there may a conversation with the B word….!

      I’m loathe to make predictions but what I would say that the sooner Government can plan with certainty of our future relationship with the EU then they will be able to devote the time and resources to focusing on this issue.


  5. A fantastic piece of work and campaign ,can I ask where does the drivers fit into this as like shop stuff are under attack on a daily basis so are drivers .verbally attack threatened ,cigarette thefts happen daily.

    • Thant’s a good shout-out by Tony.

      Tobacco theft is an issue and increased traceability regulations being introduced next May could have an effect of increasing them.

    • Tony

      great shout and the issue of tobacco thefts is something I am very well aware of from a previous life. The broader point is spot on in terms of all our colleagues – we will pick up and build.

      Best wishes


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