Home Office minister Victoria Atkins has promised to examine options for providing further protections for retail staff from violence and abuse.

On Tuesday (12 February) Atkins, who is minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, chaired a meeting of the National Retail Crime Steering Group, which includes the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), where she discussed how to protect shopworkers from violence and abuse that often occurs from age-restricted sales.

The call for evidence follows a summit with retail representative bodies and trade unions in December 2018, and is intended to help strengthen the evidence base by further understanding retailers’ experiences of crime and to look at all options for addressing these crimes.

Atkins said: “No-one should be subject to violence and abuse in their workplace and I have every sympathy for retail staff who have been the victims of these appalling acts just for doing their jobs.

“It is important to tackle this issue. Today’s exceptional meeting of the National Retail Crime Steering Group is rightly focussing solely on violence and abuse toward shop staff, to understand what more we can do to protect those in the industry.”

The ACS Crime Report 2018 estimated there were over 13,000 incidents of violence committed against retailer staff over the last year, with over a third resulting in injury.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “The safety of people working in local shops is our number one priority and we are determined that our work with the Home Office delivers lasting change and safer local shops.

“This includes securing a strong response from the police and criminal justice system to ensure offenders are brought to justice, and to send a clear message that violence against shop workers is not acceptable.”

According to the Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey released by the Police Federation of England and Wales, almost nine in ten (89.9%) of police officers say that there are not enough of them to manage the demands faced by their team or unit.