Protection of shopworkers law sees 300 incidents of abuse reported since August

retail violence caught on CCTV

Almost 300 cases of abuse against shop workers were reported to police in the first three months since the Protection of Workers Act came into force in August.

The figures from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre show 285 incidents of abuse or threats were reported to police by the end of November. The new law made it a specific offence to threaten or abuse retail staff.

Dr John Lee, the organisation’s head of policy, said: “The message is getting out loud and clear that it’s unacceptable for anyone to threaten or abuse Scotland’s retail workers. Those responsible will be punished.

“While every incident is one too many, the statistics show that the Protection of Workers Act is effective, is much needed, and that store owners and their staff are unafraid to use it.

“What’s more, it’s reassuring to see how serious Police Scotland are treating the complaints made, with every incident reported either having been investigated or under active investigation. This gives retailers confidence that these crimes are being taken seriously.”

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, added: “Usdaw’s message to members has long been ‘Report it to sort it’, so we welcome that the new law in Scotland is encouraging reporting. However, it is a disgrace that retail staff are still suffering too many incidents of violence, threats and abuse from a significant minority of customers and we continue to urge the shopping public to respect shopworkers.

“Retail staff have been on the frontline throughout the coronavirus crisis, helping to keep our communities fed, despite the risks of contracting the virus. It has been a terrible year for our members, with over 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse, more than two-thirds threatened and one in seven assaulted. We are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job.

“We need the Scottish Government, police, and retailers to continue to promote the new law. We want the public to understand that assaulting and abusing shopworkers is totally unacceptable and will land them with stiffer penalties. The protection of shopworkers legislation in Scotland should result in retail staff getting the respect they deserve.”


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