Need for shop worker protection legislation revealed by new data

retail violence caught on CCTV

More than 1,600 cases of shop worker abuse were reported to Police Scotland in the first six months after the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age Restricted Goods and Services) Act came into effect in August 2021.

Figures released by the Scottish Retail Consortium and compiled by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre show six serious assaults were reported, 675 common assaults, and 984 cases of threat and abuse.  The research also shows in 58% of cases the report was detected by Police Scotland following the initial report.

These figures also show that cases of abuse rose consistently up to December, before falling back slightly in the first two months of the year, coinciding with peak trading for the industry, as well as the introduction of stricter Covid regulations.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium Head of Policy, said: “This data demonstrates why retailers campaigned so strongly for the introduction of shop worker protection laws. Far too often the skilled and passionate store employees who help make our industry such a vibrant place to work face unacceptable abuse, intimidation, or worse whilst serving the community. It comes despite record spending by retailers on crime prevention.

“Whilst it is distressing to see the prevalence of these crimes, this new law provides a new mechanism to hold to account and punish the transgressors whilst making it much more straightforward to measure this problem. As the months move forwards this data will help to assess if Police Scotland have the right resources in place to ensure they are able to deal with this unacceptable blight upon our communities.”