Police officers leading the fight against business crime have backed calls for a new offence for those who use or threaten violence against shop staff, especially when related to age related sales.

Speaking at the National Business Crime Centre’s first annual conference, Detective Chief Inspector of the organisation Georgie Barnard said: “There needs to be stronger legislation in place for those who won’t accept being challenged or are verbally abusive because of it.”

The announcement came just a week after the ACS Crime Report 2018 revealed the scale of c-store violence faced by staff. Nearly three in four had suffered verbal abuse and it is estimated that 13,437 violent incidents happened last year in stores – more than a quarter of these involved a weapon.

One Stop lead regional security manager Joe Rutlidge said its symbol retailers had seen a 14% increase in robberies last year. Catherine Bowen, from National Business Crime Solutions, said its retail members had reported a 100% increase in robberies.

Member of Scottish Parliament Daniel Johnson is leading efforts to pass a shop worker protection bill in Scotland after similar bills were repeatedly rejected by the UK government on the grounds that existing legislation sufficiently covers shop workers.

Outlining the Government’s approach to retail crime, Home Office minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins said a review had been launched on retail crime to “inform evidence-based policy”. Atkins said this would include looking at how civil and criminal sanctions work to deter retail crime.