The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has renewed its calls for the government to criminalise abuse of shop workers after revealing an increase in retail crime.

According to the BRC’s 2019/20 survey, 455 cases of retail violence or abuse took place every day, up by seven per cent from the previous year.

The cost to retailers of crime and crime prevention methods, such as CCTV, was up by 14 per cent to £2.5 billion.

Mistreatment of shop staff is already a statutory offence in Scotland, where the Protection of Workers Act was passed in January by 90 per cent of MSPs.

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However, the UK government has proved more reluctant and points out that retail violence is covered by existing legislation.

It was unmoved by an open letter signed earlier this year by the bosses of major retailers – including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and Asda – arguing for specific legislation to tackle abuse in stores.

“Will retail workers in England and Wales ever receive the protection they deserve?” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Despite clear evidence showing the escalation of violence and abuse against retail workers, the Government has time and time again chosen not to act.

“Scotland has sent a clear message that the rise in violence and abuse must end, and the rest of the UK must follow their lead.”

The news comes after a survey last year by trade union Usdaw, which showed nine in 10 shop staff had been threatened, six in 10 had been verbally abused, and one in 10 had been assaulted.

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