Assault on shop workers should carry the same penalty as attacking a public sector worker according to retailers. The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called upon Justice Secretary Jack Straw to ensure that physically harming a retailer at work is treated as an aggravating factor when sentencing offenders.
“Shop workers deliver an essential service to the public across the UK, and it is vital that attacks on them while in the work place are treated with the same severity as an attack on a nurse or policeman,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman.
The demand for equal sentencing comes as shop workers’ union USDAW revealed that one in 10 members have been physically assaulted while doing their job and that a retail employee is either verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked every minute of the working day.
The survey also revealed that 29% of shop workers have experienced verbal abuse in the past month and 32% have been threatened in the past year.
“Shop workers are all too often assaulted, threatened and abused in the course of their work,” said USDAW general secretary John Hannett. “They’re in a pressurised environment, particularly in the run-up to Christmas time with increased sales and more stressed-out customers.”
The survey was conducted for USDAW’s Respect Shop Workers Week (2-6 November 2009) and as part of the drive for shop worker safety there is a range of POS leaflets and posters informing workers of their rights available to download from www.usdaw.org.uk.