Government responds to consultation on violence and abuse towards retail workers

    Majority of respondents say violence and abuse has increased

      • Sector News
    • 15.07.20

    The government has published its response to a year-long consultation that sought to understand the true scale of violence and abuse towards shop staff in England and Wales. 

    The Call for Evidence, originally launched in April 2019, found that: 

    • The majority of respondents believed violence and abuse toward retail workers has increased in recent years due to a rise in theft, drug and alcohol abuse. It also cited a willingness among offenders to use violence and abuse when challenged by staff, and a decline in the number of security guards working at premises
    • Many respondents had experienced threats and assaults where a knife or other sharp object was involved
    • A significant number of respondents did not report incidents to the police due to a lack of response from a previous incident, employers discouraging their workforce from reporting incidents, incidents not being considered serious enough to be reported, and a general sense that suffering abuse is ‘part of the job’
    • There was concern whether the civil tools under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2014 were not sufficient to tackle harassment, behaviour capable of causing alarm and distress, or to prevent reoffending
    • There was a lack of understanding, or opportunity, for victims to explain how they have been affected by crimes committed against them either through a Victim Personal Statement or Business Impact Statement
    • Victims did not feel that they were able to gain justice for crimes committed against them

    Kit Malthouse MP, Minister for Crime and Policing, said that the Call for Evidence had been an important step in building understanding of the problem, but that it was only “the beginning of the process”. 

    The government is now working with the National Retail Crime Steering Group and British Retail Consortium to develop and deliver a programme of work to drive down abuse and violence. 

    The consultation closed in June 2019 and so responses reflect the experiences of retailers and shop workers before the pandemic.

    GOV.UK: Call for Evidence – Violence and Abuse Toward Shop Staff Government Response

    Maybo perspective

    • The consultation findings show what a torrid time retail workers have been experiencing in recent years with more violence and less support following cutbacks to police and security resources. On top of this they have had to deal with personal and customer anxieties and further aggression over COVID:19 restrictions. Government promises of support need to deliver beyond the rhetoric and this is going to be tough as struggling retailers have even less to spend on security measures and training.
    • This is an opportunity to re-think security and risk strategies and training approaches. Multi-strategy approaches that target prolific offenders and focus on deterring thieves and unwelcome behaviours, while giving frontline colleagues the confidence to handle difficult and risky situations safely. Proactive retailers such as Marks & Spencer focus resources intelligently, working with retail security specialists like Mitie who provide comprehensive technology and response capabilities.
    • As retailers are getting smarter with resource to risk models using the latest technologies and intelligence, people will continue to play a major role, from our sales assistants to managers and security professionals. This is why Maybo has created flexible training resources to meet the needs of each retail role, with a choice of delivery approaches from eLearning to local coaching resources. These cost effective and tailorable learning resources respond to everyday challenges from theft to anti-social behaviour and common customer conflicts, such as dissatisfaction with restrictions linked to age or COVID:19. To find out more, visit https://www.maybo.com/sector/retail-leisure-and-hospitality/
    • Our frontline colleagues need support more than ever, developing skills to stay safe and communicate positively with customers on these emotive issues.

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