The government is failing to stamp out retail violence and has only offered “warm words” to shop staff, a trade union has said.
It comes as two Co-op workers were threatened by knife-wielding thieves in Leyland, Lancashire.
The employees were pushed against the shop front by three men in balaclavas, who forced them to hand over a “substantial amount” of cash and cigarettes.
According to a survey released this week by shop workers’ union Usdaw, 11 per cent of retail staff have been assaulted in the last year.
Almost two-thirds were threatened, while around nine in 10 faced verbal abuse.
General secretary Paddy Lillis was “disappointed and frustrated” that ministers had not made attacking store workers a specific offence.
This would “encourage prosecutions and provide [a] deterrent,” he continued.
With the policing bill being debated in the House of Lords today, he urged peers to vote for two amendments to “protect” staff.
Assaulting shop workers is already a statutory offence in Scotland, where it was passed by over 90 per cent of MSPs.
Calls for similar UK-wide legislation have been backed by all major supermarkets.
“When retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for legislation, it is time for the government to listen,” Lillis argued.
In the past, ministers have stood firm against the demands, insisting that this is already covered by the law.
However, Work and Pensions minister Thérèse Coffey appeared to hint yesterday that the government change its position.
“We want to strengthen [employment law] even further, including by introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers,” she wrote in The House.
“Nobody should be the target of violence and harassment simply for doing their job.”