From today, as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, common assault against anyone working in a retail environment will be classed as an aggravated offence, which carries tougher penalties.
After years of campaigning from trade groups, the Act received Royal Assent on April 28.
When a similar law, The Protection of Workers Act 2021, was enacted in Scotland last August, almost 300 cases of abuse against shop staff were reported to the police within the first three months.
The Fed’s national president, Jason Birks, welcomed the news: “Attacks against store owners and their staff have been increasing for a number of years, so I am pleased that we are now being given the same protection in law as other frontline workers.
“Being attacked verbally or physically while just going about your daily business should not be tolerated and seen as part of the job. The important thing now is that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service work together to ensure this new law is an effective deterrent and not just a piece of paper.
“It’s essential that retailers report all incidents to highlight the scale of the problem, and the police response has to improve if retail crime is to be tackled head on.”
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