RETAIL crime is a crime against people not business.

Every day 250 retail workers are victims of a violent incident, which in turn affects wider families and communities.

Co-op stores saw a rise of 400% in violent attacks and a 2,000% rise in verbal abuse between June 2017 and June 2020.

The British Retail Consortium estimates that 400 shopworkers are physically attacked every day whilst the Association of Convenience Stores show how 83% of shopworkers are subjected to verbal abuse.

The situation has got far worse as a consequence of Covid.

The Co-op reports a rise in violence towards shopworkers of 36% between March 2020 and October 2020.

A recent survey by the shop workers union USDAW cites a main reason for a violent incident against their members includes enforcement of lockdown restrictions like masks, queuing and one-way systems.

The vast majority of the public (84%) rightly believe that shopworkers perform an essential service during Covid-19, and 82% think there should be greater legal protection for them.

We urgently need new government legislation (similar to Scotland) that gives greater protection to our shopworkers in upholding the law.

Growing public concern about abuse, threats and violence against our frontline retail workers has been identified as a major issue by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Co-operative Party whose members are committed to work with local councils (of any political stripe), the police, business community and the unions to wage a public awareness campaign on the unacceptability of assaults against shopworkers - our unsung heroes and heroines during Covid.

We urge candidates for the Police & Crime Commissioner elections to also make action on retail crime one of their key priorities.

Dave Shields

Co-operative Party Member