Keep Christmas Kind – Supporting Shop Workers

Over the last few years, there have been growing numbers of attacks on shopworkers.

There has been verbal abuse, threatening behaviour and physical assault.

And during the period of the lock-downs, these have been getting both more frequent and more severe.

This is a trend that has been happening right across the country, not just here in South Yorkshire.

The shopworkers union (USDAW) calculates that there is an assault on a shopworker – verbal or physical – every minute of every day.

When they surveyed 2,000 retail workers, 76% said it was getting worse the longer the restrictions went on.

Each morning I look at a log of incidents that South Yorkshire police have dealt with the day before and overnight.

I am always shocked at the number of times someone has entered a shop and threatened the staff, especially late in the evening.

No one fully understands why this increasing abuse is happening, though there may be a number of factors coming together as a result of coronavirus.

Lock-downs have made us all that bit more grumpy and perhaps more aggressive.

You can see this in the way people are often quite abusive when they write to the newspapers or use social media.

Levels of serious violence have also risen across the country – one reason why we set up the Violence Reduction Unit in South Yorkshire.

It is also possible that as some offenders have become more desperate for cash – because lock-down made dealing more difficult –  they have become more violent in their attempts to get hold of money from the till or something they can easily sell – such as cigarettes or alcohol.

Whatever the reasons, many shopworkers have felt vulnerable and a little fearful.

We owe it to them to say ‘enough is enough’ and to try to show our appreciation for what they do for us.

This is why I am supporting, along with Police and Crime Commissioners throughout the country, the ‘Keep Christmas Kind’ Campaign.

The idea is that we should all recognise the valuable contribution shopworkers make, not least in this time of lock-down, and express our thanks in whatever way we can.

This is running for a week (1-8 December), though it is something we ought to continue throughout the year.

Shopworkers have been there for us throughout this period, often with cheerfulness and humour.

We can surely repay them with a little Christmas kindness.