Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds demonstrated her support for Respect for Shopworkers Week when she visited the Co-op store in Cowley on Friday 16 November.
During her visit to the Littlemore Road store, Ms Dodds discussed local community safety issues with store staff and heard about the Co-op’s operational programme to help tackle crime.
The visit was part of the retail trade union USDAW’s Respect for Shopworkers Week and Freedom from Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent verbal abuse, threats and violent attacks at work.
Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey, released last week (12 November), show that during 2018 over 230 shopworkers were assaulted every day, which is an increase of more than 40% on 2016. Last month the Office for National Statistics reported a further increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting continuing the trend of a 32% increase over the last decade.
Voices from the frontline: As part of Usdaw’s survey of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers, respondents have the opportunity to feed back their experiences, here are some examples:
* “Black eye, as a result of detaining a shoplifter who was violent when stopped for the theft.”
* “Shoplifter, told me to get out of the way or get stabbed with a syringe.”
* “Shoplifter broke my wrist.”
* “Punched in the face by shoplifter I was stopping from leaving the store with stolen goods.”
* “Got a knife pulled on me by a shoplifter.”
Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, said: “It was very humbling to speak to Co-op staff about their experiences of abusive and threatening behaviour in the workplace.
“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities, and that role must be valued and respected. I want our shops to be safer for staff and customers alike, but the evidence shows that retail crime is going up.
“With severe cuts to police budgets, and the loss of a quarter of neighbourhood police officers in the Thames Valley, the Government needs to be doing more to increase funding and resources for the police to help them tackle a rising tide of attacks on shopworkers and theft from shops.”
Paul Gerrard, Director of Campaigns at the Co-op, said: “Retail crime is often considered to be victimless as people think it only involves a faceless business losing stock or money. However, it is not the shop that is left bruised, bleeding or traumatised. This type of crime has nothing to do with profit and everything to do with people.
“In the months ahead, we’ll be looking to work with local community groups and other neighbourhood leaders who are engaged in tackling the root causes of crime, to see if we can identify mutual solutions to shared concerns.”