Sign petition and make retail crime a specific offence, urges Bedford shopkeeper

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A Bedford shopkeeper, targeted earlier this year by masked robbers, has welcomed a petition asking the Government to make retail crime a specific offence.

A parliamentary petition has been launched today by retail trade union, Usdaw, and has been backed by the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores among other retail groups.

The petition calls on the Government to support legislation to protect shop workers from violence, threats and abuse.

“It’s about time this was supported,” the shopkeeper – who wished to remain anonymous – told the Bedford Independent.

“It’s reassuring a big union like Udsaw are on board with retailers on this. Their support is so vital and a voice for retailers.

“We hope that people will sign that petition and help us move forward in making the retailers’ environment safe for working in.”

Back in July, the Bedford Independent reported that violence against shop staff is on the rise, with a 9% increase since last year.

Read: Calls for more retail staff protection as man jailed for Bedford robberies

Retail employers and Usdaw had provided significant evidence to the Government about the scale of assaults and abuse of shopworkers, which was already rising and has become much worse during the pandemic.

The Government responded with some much-welcomed measures, but they stopped short of new legislation.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said, “Retail staff have been key workers in the fight against coronavirus. Yet every day colleagues are abused and assaulted at work.

‘This is completely unacceptable and we need Parliament to pass legislation to provide better protection to retail workers.

“Retail violence harms victims, their colleagues, their families and their communities. I hope everyone will rally round our retail heroes and sign this important petition to help put an end to this scourge.”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said, “Local shops are a lifeline for the communities that they serve, and this has been particularly evident during the Covid-19 crisis where our colleagues have worked tirelessly to ensure that they can continue to feed their customers.

“It is unacceptable that our colleagues are facing violence and abuse whilst trying to do their job, these incidents are devastating for the colleagues affected.

“Enough is enough, we need the Government to take effective and urgent action to protect shop workers and send a clear message to perpetrators that violent and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said, “The measures the Government have agreed are worth trying and we hope that they can make a real difference.

“However they would be much more likely to succeed if backed up with new legislation; a simple standalone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.”

You can sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621

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