Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed an indication from the Home Secretary that he will look at the protection of shopworkers as part of the Offensive Weapons Bill, which tightens the law on the sale of corrosive substances and knives.
Speaking during the Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons (June 27), David Hanson MP (Labour, Delyn) said: “It will be shop staff who will be on the frontline of refusing to sell goods to individuals and it will be shop staff who could be attacked or threatened as a result. I just wonder if [the Home Secretary] would consider an aggravated offence for attacks on shop staff as part of the consideration in committee of this Bill, because shop staff deserve to have freedom from fear as everyone else does.”
Responding Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said: “He raises a point about those that may feel under some threat, particularly from the kind of individuals that would try to buy these types of knives in the first place. That is something that we will go away and think a bit further about.”
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary commented: “We welcome the Home Secretary recognising that the protection of shopworkers requires further thought and we are now seeking to meet with him as soon as possible. We also welcome the support of Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister, and share her wish that this can be done on a cross-party basis.
“Shopworkers will play a vital role on the frontline of policing this law, as they already do on the sale of alcohol and other age-restricted products. Yet they are offered no additional protection under the law and shopworkers can be treated like criminals if a mistake is made at the point of sale.
“We want an offence of attempting to illegally buy an offensive weapon to be included in the legislation, so that the customer is equally liable for an illegal purchase. We also want a specific offence for assaulting shopworker who is enforcing the law.
“This is a much-needed Bill that deserves support and we very much welcome it. We have all been appalled by the increase in assaults and deaths when acid and knives were used as offensive weapons. It is absolutely right that we do everything possible to stem the scourge of knife crime and acid attacks. Shopworkers are on the frontline of achieving that and helping to keep our communities safe. Their role should be valued, they deserve our respect, but most of all they deserve the protection of the law.”