Calls for tougher laws to protect shop workers from abuse - The Solihull Observer

Calls for tougher laws to protect shop workers from abuse

Solihull Editorial 3rd Feb, 2021   0

TOUGHER laws to protect shop workers from abuse are being called for by West Midlands deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Waheed Saleem is urging change after the level of abuse against shop workers in the West Midlands rose by a fifth in 2020. In 2019, there were 781 incidents of abuse reported to the police. In 2020, numbers rose to 934.

This mirrors an upward trend across the country and suggests the Covid-19 pandemic has been a flashpoint for abuse, with customers’ frustration with queuing, limits on stock, and mandatory mask wearing regularly being directed towards shop workers.

Some shops in the West Midlands have even advised staff not to rigidly enforce mask wearing and social distancing rules to protect against abuse.

The deputy PCC is backing calls from a number of trade unions to make offences such as common assault and GBH against a shop worker “aggravated”, so they carry longer sentences and larger fines.

These proposals – recently the subject of a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons – will toughen existing laws to send a message to would-be offenders that violence against shop workers is never acceptable.

The Deputy PCC met with business leaders last month to tell them about his desire to see the law beefed up.

Mr Saleem, said, “Early on in the Covid crisis, the PCC and I pledged to make protecting shop workers from abuse a priority.

“We have worked to ensure that police resources are further targeted towards tackling this issue, and have been proud to support campaigns for stronger deterrents for those who abuse retail staff.

“Shop workers in the West Midlands have consistently served their communities throughout this crisis and deserve to work without being abused or threatened.”

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retail Association, said: “We are really pleased to see the abuse of retail staff and shop owners being addressed in this way. It has been a growing problem, made worse during this Covid-19 crisis.

“Any abuse of retail employees is unacceptable. These employees are helping to supply essential goods to their communities and must be protected where necessary.”

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