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Prime Minister launches retail crime crackdown

Assaulting a retail worker will now be made a standalone criminal offence as Rishi Sunak sets out tough new action to crack down on retail crime and protect UK high streets.

Serial or abusive shoplifters will face tougher punishments, and perpetrators could be sent to prison for up to six months, receive an unlimited fine and be banned from the shop where they committed the crime.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “I am sending a message to those criminals – whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders or opportunistic thieves – who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses or abusing shopworkers, enough is enough.

“Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse.”

Retail Trust’s ceo Chris Brook-Carter, commented: “Retail Trust has been calling for Government to make assaults on shop workers a standalone criminal offence for some time (like it is in Scotland). This will give police more powers to prosecute, so we welcome today’s news that a change in the law is coming.

“Our data shows almost half of retail workers feel unsafe at work, with 90% having experienced physical or verbal abuse from customers. Shockingly, 41% of retail workers say this happens weekly, which is up from 34% previously, so today’s news is certainly a step in the right direction.

“Retail Trust’s purpose is to provide hope, health and happiness for everyone in retail. So, the big question we are left with today is, is this enough? And the simple answer is, on its own, probably not, which is why there needs to be a cross industry and society push to face into this worrying trend. We still encourage retail workers experiencing abuse to report it to their managers. Retailers themselves need to ensure they have the right support for their colleagues and systems and policies in place to record and report to the police. And our police forces must prioritise dealing with these crimes.

“Sadly, currently, one in four colleagues don’t report incidents. More than two thirds said they don’t think it will help, nearly a quarter said they had been put off by a previously unhelpful response from the police and over a quarter said they didn’t know how to respond to or report abusive incidents.”

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