Businesses have welcomed the progression of legislation that will see people who commit violent offences against retail staff face tougher sentences.
The House of Lords passed the government’s amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill this week.
The amendment will mean assaults on those serving the public or performing a public duty will be treated as ‘aggravated’ in sentencing terms. The new measure will be reviewed in twelve months.
Trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and union Usdaw welcomed the progression of the legislation.
Some 455 retail workers are abused or attacked every day at work, according to BRC research, with more incidents occurring during the pandemic as staff have had to reinforce Covid safety measures.
Violence has also risen as businesses have struggled with empty shelves and labour shortages over the past few months.
BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson OBE, said: “The Government has demonstrated that it understands the scale of violence and abuse that our colleagues face, and that it will act to protect them. Crime against retail staff has been rising year on year, and nobody should go to work fearing their safety.”
Earler this month, the Institute of Customer Service, alongside bosses from household names including Marks and Spencers, Sainsbury’s and Wickes, signed an open letter calling for better treatment of customer service staff.
Workers said they were afraid abuse would get worse in the lead up to Christmas after hostile behaviour has intensified in the past six months. One in 15 customer service staff (6.7 per cent) said they had received death threats.
More than 75 business leaders, plus 10 MPs and peers, backed the letter, which called for more protection for workers.