Government U-turns with crackdown on retail crime

The government is planning harsher punishments for people who assault shop workers, ending months of opposition to the move.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse revealed that an amendment making retail crime an aggravated offence had been added to the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill.

Two similar amendments had been introduced by peers last month, but floundered when the government withheld its support.

With face masks becoming mandatory in supermarkets yesterday, the move comes amid fears of further retail violence.

READ MORE: Retail crime up by 7%, BRC reveals

According to trade union Usdaw, 11 per cent of shop staff have been assaulted in the last year, while 64 per cent have been threatened.

British Retail Consortium boss Helen Dickinson said the amendment showed the government “understands the seriousness of the issue facing retail workers”.

However, Association of Convenience Stores head James Lowman argued the move “does not solve the problem by itself”.

He continued: “Police and crime commissioners must prioritise crimes committed against retailers and their colleagues.”

Evidence submitted to the home affairs committee in April showed the police often do not treat shop crimes as emergencies.

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