Jenny Whyte, a Tesco convenience store worker in the North of England, has started a petition calling on the government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence.

The petition was submitted to Parliament last week in response to the increase in verbal abuse and physical assaults on retail workers.

Tesco reported that violent incidents against its store workers are up by a third on this time last year and figures from the British Retail Consortium found that British store staff are experiencing 850 incidents of violence and abuse every day. 

Jenny said: “Nobody should come to work afraid that they could be assaulted or abused for just doing their job. Things have definitely got worse over the past few years, and some of the incidents that colleagues have had to deal with are truly shocking. The Government could show it is serious about protecting retail workers on the front line with a specific offence, and I hope this petition will encourage them to do that.”

The petition has now reached over 12,000 signatures and the government is now required to respond.

Jason Tarry, CEO of Tesco UK said: “I am fully behind the petition to make the abuse of retail workers a standalone offence. We want our colleagues to be safe at work. Creating a standalone offence not only sends a strong message to the small but violent group of people who abuse and attack shopworkers, but also makes it clear to shopworkers that as a nation we take protecting them seriously. I would encourage anyone who wants to see retail workers better protected to sign the petition, as every signature makes a difference.”

Tesco has invested in further measures to protect its employees, including body cameras and new toughened glass safety screens set to be fitted in more than 300 Tesco Express stores and petrol station kiosks. 

You can sign the petition here.