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Better protection for shopworkers is needed in the face of rising violence, threats and abuse says Usdaw

Date: 03 May 2022 Usdaw’s Annual Delegate Meeting has today supported a call for legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to make it a specific offence to abuse, threaten or assault a retail worker, as currently exists in Scotland
Usdaw’s latest annual Freedom from Fear survey of nearly 3,500 shopworkers found that:
  • 9 in 10 reported verbal abuse
  • 64% were threatened with violence
  • 12% were physically assaulted. 
Addressing the annual conference, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said: “We've made real progress working with employers to prevent violence against shop workers, but that is no substitute for the protection of the law, which we know can make a real difference.
“Following incredible campaigning from our members in Scotland, working with Scottish Labour and other organisations, Daniel Johnson MSP's protection of workers act came into force in August last year. Since then, almost 300 cases of abuse were under investigation by the Scottish police by the end of December.
“In England and Wales, the Government has finally been forced to take action. We secured 100,000 signatures on our petition, a debate in Parliament, a Home Office inquiry and finally a change in the law. The protection of workers amendment in the policing bill is a step forward. It puts the existing sentencing guidance into law.
“This supports harsher sentences when someone assaults a public facing worker, but we still need substantial work to improve reporting and resources in the criminal justice system. We continue to call for legislation in England, in Wales and in Northern Ireland, to make it a specific offence to abuse, threaten or assault a retail worker. Abuse is not, and should never be, part of the job.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
Amendment 84 to the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill – Lords Hansard 15 December 2021: https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-12-15/debates/28547EAD-5F85-4D84-AC8E-1A19CC359B20/PoliceCrimeSentencingAndCourtsBill#contribution-8416AF16-070D-409D-B0EC-0C373BC7A3F3
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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