Call for retailers to protect staff against violence

Increasing numbers of staff in the retail sector are victims of violence,
according to a recent survey by the British Retail Consortium.

The eighth annual Retail Crime Survey shows that five employees in every
1,000 were victims of violence in 2000 compared with four per 1,000 in 1999.

The main cause of physical violence was theft by customers, which accounted
for 75 per cent of cases in 2000, compared with 53 per cent in 1999, and verbal
abuse has also increased over the same period.

Bruce Robertson, head of HR for Pret à Manger, thinks the retail sector
should adopt a zero-tolerance attitude to reverse the trend. "Every
employer has a moral duty to protect the people who work for them. Stores in
difficult areas may need a security guard. This should be seen not as a cost
but as a necessity."

Ray Baker, sustainable development controller for DIY chain B&Q, said
effective training and good working practices help minimise risks to staff.

The survey reveals that the number of staff being threatened with violence
fell from 18 per 1000 staff in 1999 to 14 per 1,000.

The findings are based on a postal survey, which drew responses from
companies trading through 17,164 outlets in the UK.

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