South Yorkshire Police boss calls for more support for shop workers after rise in attacks and abuse

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is calling for more support for shop workers following a rise in attacks and abuse.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 2:43 pm

Parliament yesterday began discussing legislation around the protection of retail workers, following the success of an e-petition on the same issue that gained over 100,000 signatures.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic it was estimated that around 250 shop workers were attacked every day while at work.

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) estimates that this has doubled during the pandemic, with issues such as panic buying, social distancing and mask wearing acting as a flashpoint for abuse and violence.

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South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings

It is thought that many offences go unreported, which means that the impact upon individuals often remains hidden.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “As a PCC recently elected representing the Co-operative movement, I have been supportive in the past of the campaign to gain greater protections for retail workers against ever increasing levels of violence, threats and abuse directed towards them as they go about their jobs.

“Particularly over the last year or so, retail workers have been on the frontline of the national effort in keeping shops open, shelves stocked, and vital food and supplies available for all.

“Despite this, instances of violence, threats and abuse of shop staff has rocketed particularly around the enforcement of statutory age restrictions, with few prosecutions.

“I believe retail workers deserve better protection and the support of everyone across the many communities of South Yorkshire. I urge all our local MPs to support them in the parliamentary debates.”

The Co-op Group recently undertook analysis of the impact of the pandemic on retail workers, which shows that in the first quarter of 2021 there were almost 400 incidents where weapons were used against shop workers.

More than half involved sharp implements including syringes, knives and bottles.

In their most recent analysis, the British Retail Consortium – the retail trade body – found that only six per cent of incidents resulted in prosecutions.

To report attacks or abuse call South Yorkshire Police on 101.

Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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