An MP who succeeded in getting government to make attacks on shop workers an offence in its own right has met with staff to find out what more needs to be done to keep them safe.
Shipley MP Philip Davies visited the Co-op store in Bingley and met with managers Clare Gibson and Kieron Tattersall to discuss the ongoing issues around abuse and shop lifting.
At the visit he was told of challenges of shoplifting and violence, along with the abuse faced by the frontline retail staff.
Mr Davies said: “I worked in Asda for 12 years before entering Parliament and I know how hard staff work. I feel very strongly that no one should come to work in fear of verbal or physical abuse.
“It is clear there is still work to be done and we need to do everything we can to send out a strong message assaults on staff will not be tolerated. I was delighted when government agreed to make assaulting a shop worker an offence in its own right, and increased the sentence a judge could hand out. It sends out a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. However, it concerns me the number of staff being attacked or abused is on the increase, so I will be raising this with ministers to see what more can be done to protect our dedicated front line workers.”
Mr Davies was also shown what preventative measures the store is taking to reduce shoplifting, which he was told is a growing problem with offenders coming from outside the area to commit the crimes. He was told police were often unable to attend despite shoplifters being caught, an issue he said he would be raising with the Chief Constable.
Mr Davies’ visit comes days after new research revealed assaults on workers are on the rise with two in five employees reporting abuse from customers each week.
The survey carried out by the Retail Trust charity of more than 1,600 staff from 200 companies found workers were being shouted at, spat on, threatened or hit. Some said confronting s shoplifter led to the abuse.
This week more than 55 leading businesses including Sainsburys, John Lewis and Boots signed an open letter to Policing Minister Chris Philp calling for more police action over high levels of abuse.