A Lichfield retailer is urging shoppers to “be kind” to staff after figures revealed a rise in incidents of abuse and damage.
Central England Co-op said 312 crimes directly related to COVID-19 had been recorded in stores since the start of the pandemic.
Figures have shown that over the past 12 months incidents of verbal abuse have jumped by 167%, while assaults are up 35% and threats by 16% compared to 2019.
Craig Goldie, Central England Co-op’s loss prevention manager, said:
“This is a sad reminder of the terrible abuse and crimes that our colleagues had to face during 2020.
“Our teams have gone above and beyond over the last 12 months to ensure our communities have access to vital food and essentials, only to be greeted with shocking incidents like these.
“We want to send a clear message to anyone who might be thinking of committing a crime at one of our stores – this behaviour will not be tolerated and targeting our stores is not worth the risk.
“We need everyone to be kind and treat our colleagues with care, compassion and respect as they work around the clock for our communities. We want people to think long and hard about the person wearing our uniform – they will be someone’s much loved family member.
“We want people to ask themselves whether they would like their relatives to be confronted by someone in a violent or aggressive way, especially at this uncertain time – the answer is no, and therefore why should anyone who works in retail have to deal with this kind of behaviour.
“Everyone at Central England Co-op is proud to live and work in our local communities – now we need people to work with us to make sure our stores and the people in them are safe for everyone.”Craig Goldie, Central England Co-op
The company has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shopworkers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as automatic prison terms.