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Cumbria Times
A Voice of the North
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8:11 AM 10th September 2021
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Government Accused Of Dragging Its Feet Over Protection Of Shop Workers

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) says the UK government has missed an opportunity to protect retailers and shop workers from attacks by failing to introduce a new Bill in parliament.

In a response published today on the home affairs committee report on violence and abuse towards retail workers, the government said it would 'consider' an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the House of Lords, 'if appropriate'.

An amendment to the Bill that would have made verbally or physically attacking retailers and their staff in their place of work a specific offence, tabled on July 5, was blocked by the government in the House of Commons.

NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “Incidents of verbal abuse and physical attacks have become a daily occurrence for millions of shop workers and increased dramatically during the Covid pandemic.

“How many more will suffer the same fate while the government continues to drag its feet and merely commits to ‘considering’ a change in the law?

“Other frontline workers, such as the emergency services and customs officers, are quite rightly given extra protection by the law in recognition of the service they provide to the public and the responsibility placed upon them.

“Shop workers are just as much in the firing line and deserve the same level of protection from the law and an appropriate response from the police.”

Last month, Scotland introduced the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act. A 40-year-old man who caused a disturbance in a shop has already been charged under the new law.

The government response says it will “take into account the text of the Act in Scotland in its consideration”.

Mr Reddish added: “The language used by the government is, at best, vague and non-committal. We demand a proper commitment and swift action to prove that they are serious about protecting innocent people who are simply doing their jobs.

“We will seek meetings at the highest level in government to ensure our politicians are taking the matter seriously and are not merely paying lip service to this important and growing problem.”

Pressure will be maintained through the National Retail Crime Steering Group and through meetings with ministers and Police and Crime Commissioners.