Home Office minister Victoria Atkins has proposed a package of measures to help tackle violent retail crime against retail staff.

Atkins, who is minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, has called for evidence on violence and abuse towards shop workers; funding to raise awareness of existing legislation in place to protect shop workers; and refreshing the work of the National Retail Crime Steering Group to focus exclusively on violence and abuse.

The announcement follows a summit with retail representative bodies and trade unions in December 2018.

In a letter to attendees this week, Atkins said she had “enormous sympathy for shop workers who, in their endeavours to enforce the law, can face intimidation, threats and, in some cases, violence”.

The proposed package is to be introduced when the Offensive Weapons Bill - that is currently before Parliament - reaches committee stage in the House of Lords.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive, James Lowman, said he welcomed the minister’s recognition of violence against shopworkers.

“Tackling violence against shopworkers on the front line enforcing the law must be a key priority for all authorities, all the way from central government through to Police and Crime Commissioners and local beat police, and this must include targeted action to deal with shop theft, which is one of the most common triggers of abuse along with challenging attempted underage sales,” he said.

National Federation of Retail Newsagent (NFRN) national president, Mike Mitchelson, said: “Far too many retailers experience verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis and this unacceptable situation is something that we, at the NFRN, have been trying to raise awareness of for some time.

“The NFRN looks forward to seeing these measures take effect as they will better protect all retail workers and we will work closely with both Mrs Atkins and the Home Office to deliver a safer working environment for shop owners and their staff.”