Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk has described calls for softer sentences for offences against retailers as "nonsense".
Prisk was speaking at Convenience Store's Top Shop Awards, where he presented the Zero Tolerance Award to Lesley Brown of Frankmarsh Stores in Barnstaple, Devon.
He said: "Nothing other than zero tolerance will do when it comes to verbal abuse and violence against retailers and their staff. The calls for softer sentencing are nonsense. The police must prosecute, and the punishment must fit the crime."
Lesley won the ADT-sponsored award for tackling age-related sales issues with a strict No ID No Sale policy and forming strong links with local residents, police and trading standards officers.
She agreed with Prisk's views. "It's shocking that the government is doing nothing to help us," she said. "At the moment we're preparing for the change in the tobacco laws later in the year and the only support that we've had is the offer of some stickers. I'm worried it's going to take a lot more than that to protect our staff when the new rules come in."