By Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North

This week, for the second time, I will put before the House of Commons legislation to ensure shopworkers across the UK are afforded the protection they both need and deserve.

Abuse and violence against shopworkers are at levels never seen before. The British Retail Consortium estimate that more than 400 shopworkers are attacked every day and I know that Co-op have seen violent incidents in its store rise by close to 420% between 2017 and 2019, with the problem still rising in 2020.

I am shocked that in Co-op stores across the UK alone in the first sixty days of 2020, 100 Co-op colleagues were abused and 12 were physically attacked – with half of those attacks involving a weapon. One of these physical attacks took place in my constituency of Nottingham North in January. It’s a massive relief that no one was hurt and that the perpetrator has been jailed for three years.

However, while the problem gets worse, the police response gets less as they struggle with the loss of more than 20,000 frontline officers. Data that Co-op has gathered from a Freedom of Information request shows that even though only the most serious incidents in their stores are reported, the police do not even attend two out of three times.

This cannot go on and I believe new legislation is needed for two reasons.

Firstly, retail workers are given responsibilities to uphold the law on a range of products, which Parliament has determined can only be sold to people above a certain age. They are, therefore, performing a public service in the same way as others like, for example, emergency workers or HMRC officials. I believe that as a point of principle, in the same way as those workers are afforded additional protection in carrying out their public duties, so should shopworkers.

Secondly, there needs to be a reset in society and a very clear message sent that it is not part of the job for shopworkers to suffer abuse and violence. Parliament can establish a new expectation by legislating for what is acceptable. The police must then be given the resources to implement this new legislation.

My fellow Co-operative Party MPs support this new piece of legislation, and I hope others across the House will take the opportunity to do so too. It’s the least shopworkers deserve.

If you would like to show your support for the bill, you can do so by adding your name in support of the bill and then spreading the message on social media. It takes less than a minute, and will show the scale of the support for a bill to end violence against shopworkers. Please, add your name and spread the word.

Join the conversation! 15 Comments

  1. Totally agree should not have to suffer abuse

  2. Shop workers don’t have a choice. They face the public every day which makes them vulnerable to abuse and violence.

    They deserve to be treated with respect. THEY SHOULD NEVER BE EXPECTED TO WORK ALONE!

  3. This is needed .

  4. The focus needs to be on prevention. We are the front line for the hugely profitable tobacco companies and it is they who should be providing safe methods of selling their products in our stores. Secure single dispense units rather than something that I could have built in my shed. Whilst on the subject of inadequate fixtures, I would point out, that if criminals are able to rip our tills out with their bare hands we are only making ourselves targets. For the record my store has had two robberies, each happening in less than two minutes (one of which involved the SM being manhandled by a knife wielding criminal) in 13 days leaving us with no tills and £4k worth of cigarettes stolen. On the subject of Policing, officers were in attendance within minutes and after a high speed pursuit apprehended the three perpetrators. The effect on store colleagues and the community has been huge, notably because these are the eighth and ninth incidents in 6 years.

  5. This is a massive step forward for standing up to what we have to deal with on a daily basis. Myself and my colleagues have all got far to many stories over the years and in particular more so in recent years where we are being victims of crime simply because we have come to work to earn a honest living.

  6. We need this legislation for all shop workers, I’m in full support of this.

  7. Our colleagues are amazing with how they handle everything around anti social behaviour, crime and disorder. We all must work harder to challenge the status quo and individually work close with our local MPs, fully supporting this to protect our teams

  8. This is just one of the most important things. Every day our colleagues have to deal with something they just shouldn’t have to. We must find a way to get these acts treated as serious as they are….we must find a way to not only do that but to also find a way to protect but also solve to route causes using all our energy and cooperative skills. But first we need support to get them treated as a real crime because they are.

  9. I am in full agreement and after having two armed robberies in stores over the last three weeks and seeing the effe that this has had on employees, their families and myself this is something that can’t continue.
    We are in need of urgent support as this is effecting people’s lives

  10. Having been working in retail for 15 years I absolutely agree that something needs to be done about this so everyone can feel safe at work. Shop theft, violence and threatening behaviour is an everyday occurrence to the point sometimes it wrongly feels like the ‘norm’ of everyday working.

  11. This is absolutely not part of the job and why it is so important that we support this bill both as individuals and an organisation

  12. Retailers need to look at staffing levels and colleagues asked to work late nights with as little as only two or three in the shops this includes the co-op. Their focus should not be on how to cut costs on productivity but make colleagues feel its a safe place to and enjoy.

  13. I fully support this and needs to continue to gain momentum

  14. We need this legislation to help protect retail workers so everyone can feel safer while doing their job. Thankyou for your support.

  15. Totally agree. They need to be treated with he respect they deserve.

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