Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, on a visit to a local Co-op store in Cowley (Littlemore Road), called for the government to take action to protect shopworkers from intimidation and violence at work.
During the visit, which took place as part of Respect for Shopworkers Week, Anneliese met with Co-op representatives and Usdaw to discuss the rise in abuse against shopworkers and the measures Co-op are taking to protect staff.
Co-op has seen a 600% rise in violence toward colleagues over the 4 years prior to Covid 19 and during the pandemic a further 76% increase. This means that across the 2600 Coop stores up and down the UK, approximately 10 Co-op colleagues are physically assaulted and approximately 100 are abused or threatened every day. Furthermore, half of the physical assaults involved weapons such as knives or syringes.
The Co-op continues to invest heavily in colleague safety and over the last 5 years has invested over £140 million in security, crime prevention and colleague safety. In January 2020 Co-op submitted a Freedom of Information request to all police forces and 75% responded. This showed that 2 out of every 3 incidents reported in Co-op stores across the UK did not lead to the Police attending.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government created a new offence which makes assaulting, threatening or abusing a retail worker a specific offence and stipulates a sentence of up to 12 months or fine for committing the offence. It also provides additional protection for those enforcing age-restricted sales laws. Since the Respect for Shop Workers Bill being passed in Scotland 46% of threats and verbal abuse have been detected and the offender charged
Anneliese is calling on the Government to take action and implement a new law to protect shopworkers, after they refused to support Labour’s amendment earlier this year to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill which would have increased protection for shopworkers and ensured they could work free from intimidation.
Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, said:
“Thank you to staff at the Littlemore Road Co-op for welcoming me and sharing their experiences.
“Shopworkers provide an invaluable service for our communities and have gone above and beyond over the last 18 months to ensure local people have what they need.
“They deserve to work free from fear of intimidation, abuse and violence.
“That is why I am calling on the government to stand with shopworkers and their trade union Usdaw and finally introduce legislation to ensure our shopworkers are protected at work.”
Chris Gunning, Co-op Field Risk Support Officer, said:
“We believe there is a real opportunity for government to do even more and use their own Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to provide shopworkers in England and Wales the same protection that the Scottish Parliament have provided for colleagues in Scotland.
“This will make it more straightforward for the police and courts to investigate, in order to sentence those who attack or abuse shopworkers. It is vitally important to all retailers that the perception of subjecting shopworkers to abuse and violence is not ok.
“We very much hope to see the Government go further by legislating protection for our English and Welsh colleagues and are grateful for MP attendance nationally within our stores during National Respect for Shopworker Week.”