I appreciate the bravery of those retail workers who came forward to share their personal experiences as part of the Government’s consultation on shopworker abuse. I hope that the Government will act soon to ensure that their stories will not be repeated.
It is a cruel injustice that so many people go to work in absolute fear of being physically or verbally attacked just for doing their job.
In November 2018, the Co-Op published a report, Safer Colleagues Safer Communities, which stated that, every day, 250 shop workers are the victim of a violent incident.
Additionally, research from USDAW, the shopworkers union, found that 62% of its members reported having been the victim of verbal or physical abuse. This is shocking and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
On 5 April 2019, the Home Office launched a consultation on violence and abuse towards shop staff. It closed on 28 June 2019 and is awaiting a response. The Government has outlined that it will be looking at the scale of the issue of violence and abuse toward shop staff, the measures which may help to prevent these crimes and the extent to which existing legislation is being used to tackle them.
In response to a written question, Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Crime and Policing, stated that the Government’s response will be published in March.
There must be no further delay in responding to the consultation.
I believe that the Government should make sure that people are treated equally at work by requiring employers to maintain workplaces free of harassment, including by third parties. It should ensure that public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence.
Furthermore, I am concerned that Police resources are stretched to their limits. The Government must commit to reversing a decade of cuts to the Police.
I can assure you that I will read the Government’s response once it is published and continue to push the Government to act to protect retail workers. I will also continue to support Bills such as Alex Norris MP’s ‘Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences)’ Ten Minute Rule Bill, which aims to tackle this issue.