Violence against retail staff hits new high

Employees
working in the retail sector are
increasingly having
to deal with both violence and threatening
behaviour, the British Retail Consortium warns.

The
industry body’s eleventh annual Retail Crime Survey reveals that violence
against retail staff rose by 17 per cent in 2003, with threats to employees up
by 109 per cent.

Despite
the increased violence and threats, the overall total losses from retail crime
fell by £700m to £1bn, down from £1.7bn in 2002m the survey shows.

BRC
director general Kevin
Hawkins said: "The visible cost of crime showed a considerable and welcome
fall. However, the hidden cost of crime – the emotional and business viability
impact of violence towards staff – has shown a serious and worrying rise.
Retail crime is not victimless. Reducing these figures and the terrible unseen
cost of this type of crime is a priority for the industry.

"The
way forward is to ensure the Government and police take retail crime seriously and for the industry to continue
play
a substantial role in a wide range of initiatives to fight
crime and make our communities safer and better places,” he said.

Shopworkers union Usdaw described the scale of the
problem as “astonishing”.

John
Hannett, Usdaw general secretary, said:
“With more than 10 per cent of the UK’s
workforce being employed in retail, this issue affects a significant number of
people. I know that many Usdaw
members move heaven and earth to deliver a good service, but they are doing so
in an increasingly hostile and dangerous environment. No-one should go to work
in fear of being a victim of abuse or violence.”

By Daniel Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

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