Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Paddy Tipping has voiced his support for a national awareness week urging the public to show greater respect towards shop workers and retail staff during a visit to a store in Mapperley.
The PCC is one of many officials backing Usdaw’s National Respect for Shopworkers’ Week – a week-long, annual event running from 16 to 22 November – aimed at protecting retail workers from abuse and violence from customers.
Usdaw said incidents of violence and aggression against retail workers had doubled during the pandemic as a result of shop workers being given more responsibility to protect the public – triggering high levels of abuse and aggression.
Usdaw has fought to prevent violence and abuse since 2002 through its ‘Freedom from Fear Campaign’. It is also calling on the Government to legislate to protect shop workers and has amassed more than 70,000 signatures.
This year, Usdaw teamed up with Central England Co-op, which runs its own Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign, to host an online listening event attended by PCCs and Chief Constables across the country.
The event, due to be chaired by Usdaw’s Divisional Officer for the Midlands, Gavin Dadley, was set to take place today (Thursday 19 November) and attended by frontline retail workers sharing their experiences of violence, threats and abuse while at work.
Mr Tipping, who appeared in a video to show his support for the campaign, said: “I wholeheartedly support National Respect for Shopworkers’ Week and the Freedom from Fear campaign. Retail workers play a crucial role in our communities and this has been demonstrated throughout the pandemic when as keyworkers they put their own safety at risk to serve others.
“The fact that assaults have doubled during this period is shocking and warrants urgent attention.
“Retail workers provide a public service and deserve respect and appreciation for what they do. It is simply unacceptable that any of them should face abuse while performing their job.
“I would encourage employers to support this awareness week and give staff the confidence to speak out and report abuse. Any shop worker who feels threatened, intimidated or is assaulted by a customer should report the matter to police for full investigation.”
Usdaw’s 2019 survey found more than 400 shop workers are attacked every day. A total of 68 percent of workers reported they had been verbally abused at least once and 43% said they had been threatened with physical violence.
The retail union said the average shop worker had been assaulted, threatened or abused every 6.5 days during the first wave of the pandemic.
It said trigger points included age-related sales restrictions and the enforcement of coronavirus rules including social distancing, the 10pm curfew and the requirement to wear facemasks.
Nottinghamshire Police, working with partners, released a video earlier this year about assaults on key workers in a bid to combat increased assaults.