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Government Response Call for Evidence on Violence and Abuse towards shop staff

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News

The Government has now published its response to the Call for Evidence on Violence and Abuse towards shop staff which closed in June 2019. Members of the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) responded to the call for evidence calling for tougher penalties for those who attack shop workers, action on the root causes of offending and police response.

The call for evidence received 800 main responses:

  • The majority of respondents believed violence and abuse toward shop staff has increased in recent years
  • A significant number of respondents said they did not report incidents to the police
  • The principal issue for many was the need to create a new offence, but this was not the only issue raised

The Government response states that it "does not consider that the case is yet made out for a change in the law" to create a new offence of assaulting a shopworker. The Government considers the existing legislation that can be applied to incidents of violence and abuse to be sufficient and that under-reporting requires more urgent action.

To address the issues raised in the call for evidence the Government will aim to:

  • deepen its understanding and address the drivers of violence and assault against shop workers
  • send a clear message that such crimes are not tolerated and should be recorded whenever and wherever they take place
  • provide effective support to those shop workers who are the victims of violence and abuse

The Home Office have committed to working through the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRSCG) with four dedicated task and finish groups. IRC member ACS is a member of the NRCSG and is involved in the groups. The groups will: develop communications for employees and employers to make clear that violence and abuse is not tolerated; develop a best practice guide for reporting crimes; look at barriers to effective data sharing between businesses and the police to ensure that information can be used to better understand the problem and look at how to better provide support to victims.

New action being pursued by the Government includes writing to Police and Crime Commissioners to set out that the theft of goods valued up to £200 from a shop should be prosecuted as a criminal offence and should not constrain the ability of the police to arrest or prosecute someone in the way they feel is most appropriate. The Government also intends to publish a White Paper ahead of the sentencing legislation announced at Queen's Speech, that will include proposals for tougher community sentences.


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