Over the last two years there has been a notable increase in reports of abuse and violence committed against retail workers, and other sectors with staff in public facing roles.
The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has become increasingly concerned about the growing number of assaults that shop workers in South Yorkshire have had to face.
He has held meetings with representatives from the retail sector and organisations that represent them and heard first hand some of the violent and abusive situations that retail workers face every day.
The Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, has this week announced that an amendment has been tabled to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make it an offence to commit a crime against anyone providing a public service, performing a public duty or providing a service to the public.
In welcoming this amendment Dr Alan Billings said: “During the pandemic we have come to really appreciate the valuable public service performed by shop assistants and shopkeepers.
“They kept the shops open during some of the most difficult times of restrictions.
“Over the past few months I have been meeting with local retailers and representatives from the Co-ops, the trade unions and retail associations.
“They all asked for greater protection in law for retail workers, and I supported their campaign.
“The Government has now accepted the argument, which is why I very much welcome their decision to amend the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently going through parliament, to give retail workers greater protection.
“I was elected as a Co-operative Party member and so this fulfils an election promise I made to support this strengthening of the law.
“When the bill becomes law next year, retail workers will be treated as people who provide a valuable public service and an assault on them will be regarded as an aggravating factor attracting a stiffer sentence.
“Local shops are the lifeblood of our communities and shop workers deserve our absolute support.
“This is one way we show this.”
The amendment is published on the Parliament website: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill publications – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament
If the amendment is agree by both houses, it will become law in 2022.