Shopworker abuse continues in Scotland despite new law

Almost 300 cases of abuse against shopworkers have been reported in Scotland over the last three months despite the new law designed to protect them. 

The Protection of Workers Act was enacted in August 2021 and made it an official “offence for a person to assault, threaten or abuse another person – who is a retail worker”. 

However, figures from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre have revealed 285 incidents of abuse or threats were reported to the police between August and November last year. 

READ MORE: Government U-turns with crackdown on retail crime

“Usdaw’s message to members has long been ‘Report it to sort it’, so we welcome that the new law in Scotland is encouraging reporting,” Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said. 

“However, it is a disgrace that retail staff are still suffering too many incidents of violence, threats and abuse from a significant minority of customers and we continue to urge the shopping public to respect shopworkers.” 

The Protection of Workers Act was passed in January 2021 after unions emphasised the increase of retail crime during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) latest crime survey, there have been 455 incidents of abuse against shopworkers daily and only 40% of retailers rated police response as “good” or “fair”. 

Lillis added: “It has been a terrible year for our members, with over 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse, more than two-thirds threatened and one in seven assaulted,” 

“We need the Scottish Government, police and retailers to continue to promote the new law. We want the public to understand that assaulting and abusing shopworkers is totally unacceptable and will land them with stiffer penalties.” 

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