Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has today welcomed the news that assaulting a public-facing worker will become a specific aggravated criminal offense. The news comes after years of activism from campaigners, and just weeks after Gwynne met with Co-op workers in Audenshaw to discuss the issue.
Retail crime has increased rapidly over the course of the pandemic. The Co-op has seen a 650% rise in violence towards its staff between 2016 and 2020. Over half of the physical attacks staff have faced involve weapons. The British Retail Consortium has also estimated that the continued rising trend in incidents of violence and abuse amounts to the equivalent of over 50 incidents an hour (or almost one a minute during a typical 9-hour shopping day). Despite these shocking statistics, the Government had been holding firm in its belief that a new specific offense was not needed.
After significant public and political pressure, the Government U-turned late last night, and it was announced that the Government will table an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill to make an attack on anyone providing a public service/duty (including shopworkers) an aggravated offence.
Commenting on the success of the campaign, Andrew Gwynne said:
“This is really positive news, and will make a world of difference to front-facing staff who have faced disgraceful abuse without proper legal protection. I am really glad that the Home Office has finally decided to implement these simple, but vital changes in law.
I would like to specifically congratulate Alex Norris MP, USDAW and the Co-Operative for their tireless work in this regard. Just weeks ago I met with Co-op staff in Audenshaw and was absolutely stunned by the level of intimidation and abuse they face on a daily basis.
No one should face abuse at their place of work, and that’s why specifically legislating against this problem is such a positive step.”