Police on duty

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on MPs to back an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill that would make assaulting a retail worker a specific offence.

The amendment (New Clause 45), proposed by Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones MP, is currently being considered alongside others as part of the Committee Stage of the PCSC Bill.

If included in the Bill, assaulting, threatening, or abusing a retail worker would become a specific offence, with that offence becoming aggravated (more serious) if the abuse takes place as a result of the retail worker enforcing age restrictions, for example during the purchase of alcohol products.

The amendment also specifies that unpaid volunteers (such as those in community shops) and workers delivering goods from a retail outlet would be included within the scope of the term ‘retail worker’.

Figures from the 2021 ACS Crime Report show that there were over 40,000 violent attacks against people working in convenience stores and 1.1m incidents of theft over the last year, many of which committed by repeat offenders with a drug or alcohol addiction. The report also shows that there have been over 1.2m incidents of abuse over the last year, which often go unreported.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This amendment is an important step toward taking much needed action to stop offenders repeatedly targeting convenience stores. Those who attack retailers and their colleagues must be dealt with properly through tougher sentences, so we urge MPs to back new clause 45 in the PCSC Bill to send a clear message that these offences will not be tolerated.”

ACS has also co-ordinated with over 100 retailers and trade bodies the Home Office backed ShopKind campaign, urging customers to be respectful of colleagues in stores. Campaign materials for retailers are available to download on the NBCC website here.