Published on 15 - May - 2012
Retail crime rate surges by 83% in two yearsAccording to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), more than 35,000 members of retail staff suffered physical or verbal abuse last year, leading the retail association to publish a new guide on what is being done - and what more it thinks should be done - to tackle the problem.
The BRC are calling for a stronger response from police as attacks on shop workers increase
Named 'Tackling Violence Against Staff,' the guide is endorsed by shop workers' union Usdaw, and contains details of initiatives such as conflict management training being offered to some employees. The rise in crime against retail workers cost £1.4bn last year, and the BRC is urging more retailers to come forward to report crimes against them so a fuller picture can be achieved.
Verbal abuse has been pinpointed as a growing problem for retailers; the BRC has criticized the police and criminal justice system for not responding effectively enough when shop workers are attacked.
BRC head of crime Catherine Bowen said: "Retailers invest considerable resources in protecting their workers, stock and property. Protecting staff from violence means taking many factors into account, from the positioning of in-store CCTV to how those who do carry out attacks are prosecuted. Companies are doing a lot to prevent trouble occurring in the first place, for example by giving customer service staff training in how to avoid conflict.
"Our new guidelines will help businesses be sure they've done all they can to prevent staff from being attacked or abused. The question that remains is whether the police and criminal justic system are doing all within their power to protect the country's three million retail employees. Those who are violent or threatening towards our staff are as guilty of a crime as anyone who behaves that way on the street. The police response needs to reflect that."
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: "Usdaw welcomes these guidelines form the BRC. The BRC's support for the union's Freedom from Fear campaign has been very helpful. Working together we have seen a significant reduction in serious assaults in the last five years.
"However we share the BRC's concern that reports of threats and verbal abuse have escalated and the rise in robberies over the last year shows that there is no room for complacency. Usdaw is committed to working with the BRC and with employers to make it clear that abuse is not part of the job."
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