The House of Lords have passed the government’s amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would criminalise violent offences against retail staff.
The amendment clarifies that the court must treat assaults committed “against a person providing a public service, performing a public duty or providing services to the public” as an aggravating factor.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and its members have been campaigning to raise awareness over the issue and have worked with parliamentarians to create an amendment that would offer better safety for retail workers.
Recent crime survey results from the BRC have revealed 455 retail workers are abused or attacked every day at work, with the number only rising over the past 20 months as staff must implement Covid safety measures.
The survey also indicated that only 40% of retailers rated the police response to reported incidences as “good” or “fair”, which has led to many incidents not being reported at all.
“We welcome the government’s move to ensure that those who commit violent offences against retail workers receive tougher sentences for their crimes,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said.
“The government has demonstrated that it understands the scale of violence and abuse that our colleagues face, and that it will act to protect them.”
She added: “Crime against retail staff has been rising year on year, and nobody should go to work fearing their safety. The BRC will continue to campaign on behalf of the three million retail colleagues who work tirelessly to ensure we all have access to the food and goods we need.”
However, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has still been severely criticised by trade unions within the agrifood industry as it would “erode fundamental rights of protest including vital trade union activities that support working people.”
The bill has passed through the House of Commons and is set to undergo the third and final reading in the House of Lords.