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More still needs to be done to tackle threats and violence aimed at shop workers, the boss of a Lichfield retailer has said.

It comes after the Government outlined plans to tackle the problem.

Among the proposals from the Violence and Abuse Towards Shop Staff report are urging police to work with retailers to identify the scale of the problem, as well as calling for thefts of items up to £200 being prosecuted as a criminal offence.

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op Chief Executive, said:

Debbie Robinson

“While we welcome these positive steps by the Government, we still think more could and should be done to protect our store colleagues and all shop workers from threats and physical abuse.

“We continue to believe that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable, and we will not tolerate any kind of abuse to our colleagues and we again urge the Government to work harder to recognise the people it itself has recognised as being of vital importance to our daily lives.

“Their amazing contribution now needs to be recognised by a change in the law so anyone who takes the decision to cross the line with our colleagues knows that retail crime is taken seriously.

“We are aware that this is not just a Central England Co-op problem, it is an industry-wide problem, and this is why we will continue to work closely with other co-operatives and retailers to campaign for change.”

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op

Figures from Central England Co-op showed assaults on staff jumped by 100%, threats and intimidation by 25% and verbal abuse by 175% since the start of the year.

Since the lockdown measures were introduced, there have been more than 100 incidents where the company’s staff have seen people directly using COVID-19 as a threat.

The company is urging people to support calls for more action via an online petition.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said:

“Warm words and working groups are not enough – we need tougher penalties for attacks on shopworkers and more police resource to stamp out violence.

“We are committed to working through the National Retail Crime Steering Group to make sure retailers and shopworkers are equipped to report every incident of crime to police and to send a clear message that violence and abuse is not part of the job.”

James Lowman, Association of Convenience Stores

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