Abuse and attacks on UK shop workers rises to 1,300 incidents a day

4 hours ago
About sharing

Violence and abuse against shop workers rose to 1,300 incidents a day last year, according to a leading trade body.

Incidents against staff were up by 50% in the year to September 2023, up from 870 incidents a day the year before.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) criticised the “woefully inadequate” action taken by the government to address the “crisis”.

The Home Office has been contacted for a comment.

The amount lost to shoplifting in the past year was the highest on record, a BRC survey found.

Several business leaders have called for violence against shop workers to be made a standalone offence in England and Wales, as it already is in Scotland.

The BRC said incidents against retail staff ranged from racial abuse and sexual harassment to physical assault and threats with weapons.

It said about 8,800 of the total incidents across the year resulted in injury.

The BRC survey found that theft by customers had doubled to 16.7 million incidents a year, up from eight million.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC said that “despite retailers investing huge sums in crime prevention, violence and abuse against retail workers is climbing.

“No one should have to go to work fearing for their safety. This is a crisis that demands action now.”

Retailers had lost £1.8bn in the latest year due to shoplifting, the BRC said, which is the highest amount on record and the first time it has surpassed the £1bn mark.

Some retailers surveyed said the cost-of-living crisis had changed how shoplifters operated, from taking one or two items to many.

Incidents against staff tripled during the Covid-19 pandemic and have remained much higher since then.

Retailers have spent about £1.2bn on crime prevention measures including CCTV, increased security personnel, and body worn cameras.

The BRC said the government’s Retail Crime Action Plan provided “hope” as it pledged a police commitment to prioritise crime scenes where there has been violence against a shop worker.

Speaking at the plan’s launch last October, Policing Minister Chris Philp said he wanted a “a new zero-tolerance approach to tackling shoplifting”.

In an open letter organised by the Institute of Customer Service in November, more than 50 businesses including John Lewis and the Post Office, as well as several MPs, urged the government to ensure assaults on shop workers were better recorded.

This would include recording such crimes separately in police statistics, they said.

The Co-op said violence against shop workers rose sharply last year with 1,325 physical attacks on staff in 2023.

In September, the boss of John Lewis said shoplifting had become an “epidemic” in the past year.

Are you a shop worker who has been affected by the issues raised in this story? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

WhatsApp: +44 7756 165803

Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay

Upload pictures or video
Please read our terms & conditions and privacy policy

If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at HaveYourSay@bbc.co.uk. Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

Sign up for our morning newsletter and get BBC News in your inbox.

Related Topics

More on this story

5 days ago
12 September 2023
13 November 2023
5 days ago