Retail staff working in fear of abuse and violent behaviour

UK staff working in the retail sector are increasingly having to deal with
violence and threatening behaviour, official industry figures show.

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) 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 2002.

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."

Shopworkers union Usdaw said the scale of the problem is
"astonishing". General secretary John Hannett said: "With more
than 10 per cent of the UK’s workforce being employed in retail, this issue
affects a significant number of people. No one should go to work in fear of
being a victim of abuse or violence."

Usdaw’s own research, based on the experiences of more than 1,600
shopworkers during a week in June, reveals retail staff endure high levels of
verbal abuse, threats and physical attacks. In the UK, 51 per cent of
respondents said they are fairly or very concerned about verbal abuse, 53 per
cent about threats and 57 per cent about violence.

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