Retail workers face 1,300 incidents of violence and abuse everyday, according to the latest figures from the British Consortium’s (BRC) crime survey.

It comes after the government recently voted against a proposed amendment to the Retail Crime Bill that aimed to make violence against shopworkers a standalone offence. 

The BRC has said that criminals are being “being given a free pass”, as it found that theft by customers had doubled to 16.7 million incidents last year.

Despite retailers investing £1.2bn in crime prevention, the survey revealed that the cost of theft to retailers went up to £1.8bn from £953m the previous year.

It was reported that incidents ranged from racial abuse and sexual harassment to physical assault and threats with weapons.

The survey highlighted that retailers’ dissatisfaction with the police increased, with 60% of respondents describing the police response to incidents as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Helen Dickinson OBE chief executive of the British Retail Consortium emphasised that the government can no longer ignore the plight of ordinary, hardworking retail colleagues: ”Teenagers taking on their first job, carers looking for part-time work, parents working around childcare. And while the violence can be over in a moment, the victims carry these experiences with them for a lifetime. And we all know the impact does not stop there – it affects their colleagues, friends, and the family our colleagues go home to. This is a crisis that demands action now.

“Criminals are being given a free pass to steal goods and to abuse and assault retail colleagues. No one should have to go to work fearing for their safety. The Protection of Workers Act in Scotland already provides additional protection to retail workers, so why should our hardworking colleagues south of the border be offered less protection?”

Dickinson has urged the government to introduce a new standalone offence for assaulting or abusing a retail worker.

Katy Bourne OBE Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner and APCC lead for business crime described the level of retail crime in the survey as “unprecedented”.

Every day, retail staff are facing the consequences of shoplifters’ brazen behaviour and that’s why I have supported the call for a specific offence of assault on a shopworker,” Bourne said. “Our courts need to work more efficiently, and shoplifters need to be deterred from re-offending. That’s why I’m calling for my fellow Police & Crime Commissioners to focus their police forces on tackling shoplifting by making it a priority in their local Police & Crime Plans.”