All independent retailers and their staff are being asked to add their voices to a call for better protection from violent criminals.

Convenience Store is petitioning the Prime Minister to give a higher priority to protecting retailers and their staff from attack. The demand follows the recent deaths of Diana Garbutt of The Village Shop and Post Office in Melsonby, North Yorkshire, who was killed during a reported robbery on March 23, and of Gurmail Singh in his Huddersfield c-store in February.

The petition calls for greater protection for local stores serving vital community needs, quicker police response for every reported offence, and stiffer penalties for those found guilty of attacks on store workers.

Diana Garbutt became the sixth store worker to die violently since the beginning of 2009, in an attack which police believe may be related to a similar raid on her store a year ago. The murder of Gurmail Singh also followed an earlier attack on his shop.

In addition, Convenience Store has identified 14 raids on local stores in the past two months where criminals used guns, knives and other weapons. Seven of the store workers involved were shot, stabbed or beaten.

Poor prioritisation of retail crime could also be behind a previous death. Last month the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) criticised West Mercia police officers over the murder of Craig Hodson-Walker in his family's post office in 2009.

According to the report, detectives were aware of gunman Anselm Ribera's involvement in other retail crimes for more than six months before the incident, but arrested him only after Craig was murdered. IPCC commissioner Len Jackson said that detectives should have made efforts to arrest Ribera before he carried out the Fairfield raid. Three officers are now facing disciplinary action.

C-Store's online petition will resume after the election.
15 months, six deaths 
January 2009 Craig Hodson-Walker Fairfield Stores, Worcestershire 

March 2009 Ahmet Paytak Euro Wine and Food Store, Hornsey, London 

June 2009 Jashbhai Patel Moon Newsagents, Luton, Bedfordshire 

July 2009 Nasar Hussain Brookhouse Supermarket, Eccles, Manchester 

February 2010 Gurmail Singh Cowcliffe Convenience Store, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire 

March 2010 Diana Garbutt The Village Shop and Post Office, Melsonby, North Yorkshire.