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Violence and abuse against retail workers nearly double pre-pandemic levels

By Rachel Douglass


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Retail store. Image: Unsplash

A new report has found that violence and abuse against people working in retail has almost doubled on that of pre-pandemic levels.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Crime Survey showed that incidents, including racial and sexual abuse, physical assault and threats with weapons, rose from the pre-Covid high of over 450 per day in 2019 and 2020, to over 850 per day in 2021 and 2022.

Next to emotional and physical impact on people, retail crime also contributes to huge financial costs, BRC said, with the survey revealing the total costs of such crimes stood at 1.76 billion pounds in 2021 and 2022.

An additional 953 million pounds was lost to customer theft, and 715 million pounds was spent on crime prevention, the organisation added.

The results follow the implementation of the BRC’s newly amended Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act with the aim to better protect people working in retail.

However, the organisation noted that the Home Office does not currently track this amendment, making it hard to know the act’s impact.

In a release, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The pandemic has normalised appalling levels of violent and abusive behaviour against retail workers.

“While a confrontation may be over in minutes, for many victims, their families and colleagues, the physical and emotional impact can last a lifetime.

“To make the UK a safer place to work the Home Office must improve its reporting around the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, and the police must prioritise adequately resourcing retail crime. Surely everyone deserves the right to go to work without fear.”

Workers Rights