The Offensive Weapons Bill brings in new offences for people trying to buy bladed weapons or acids who are under-age. This came about due to the rise in violent crime across the UK.
However, this Bill would put in place new responsibilities for shopworkers to police this law but gave them no new protections if they are attacked when do so. That is why I put forward a New Clause which would make it an aggravated offence to attack a shopworker who is checking someones age or refusing them the sale.
I am supported by Usdaw, the Co-Op, ACS, the BRC, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire Police and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents. The only people not supporting my New Clause is the UK Government.
The Government has promised to meet with me and all those supporting me to see if they will introduce these much needed legal protections. If they fail to accept my demands then I will reintroduce my amendments in the House of Lords with a colleague. This is far from over.
I have demonstrated my support for Respect for Shopworkers Week when I visited the Co-op store in Leeswood on 16 November.
During my visit to the store on Queen Street, I discussed local community safety issues with store staff and heard about the Co-op’s operational programme to help tackle crime.
As part of its commitment to colleague safety and community well-being, the Co-op is backing the shopworkers’ union USDAW’s campaign and the Respect for Shopworkers Week.
I am also trying to change the law through amending the Offensive Weapons Bill. His New Clause 1 would see protections in place for shop workers who are attacked whilst checking the age of someone trying to purchase age restricted items listed within the Offensive Weapons Bill. The Bill is currently at its Report Stage in the House of Commons.
Shop workers face an unprecedented level of threat from violent incidents as each day across the UK six are threatened with a knife and two with a gun. Recent figures show that across the country violent, weaponised crimes is on the rise with a 16% increase in incidents involving knives. My new clause would bring into being new protections for shop workers from those who threaten them with violence. The UK Government needs to accept this to ensure workers are free from fear in the workplace.
Products can be replaced and stores repaired, but violent crime in shops often has a shocking, and lasting, impact on those working at the frontline. That is why I am backing this important initiative as we must all do everything we can to help reduce these attacks.
Paul Gerrard, Director of Campaigns at the Co-op, said: “Retail crime is often considered to be victimless as people think it only involves a faceless business losing stock or money. However, it is not the shop that is left bruised, bleeding or traumatised. This type of crime has nothing to do with profit and everything to do with people.
“In the months ahead, we’ll be looking to work with local community groups and other neighbourhood leaders who are engaged in tackling the root causes of crime, to see if we can identify mutual solutions to shared concerns.”
I am asking constituents to contact me with their opinions on Christmas opening hours. I am particularly interested to hear from retail workers who may have seen some changes to their working arrangements on Boxing Day.
Recently, I attended a Westminster Hall Debate concerning retail staff working on Boxing Day. The debate was prompted by several petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures and was led by fellow Labour MP Helen Jones. MPs reflected public concerns about the growth in the number of stores opening on 26 December and the impact that has on staff and wider society. A recent USDAW – the union that represents shopworkers – survey found that 93% of retail staff do not want to be in work on Boxing Day. Read more “Boxing Day Bank Holiday”
I condemned the figures released by Usdaw – the Union of Shop, distributive and allied workers – showing that 1 in 10 shopworkers have been assaulted at work. But even more concerning Usdaw have learnt that nearly a third do not report it.
USDAW is the UK’s fourth largest union in the country representing 435,000 members nationwide. They represent members in:
• All major retailers
• Road transport
• Warehouses and distribution
• Food manufacturing
• Home shopping
• Plus a range of other industries. Read more “Freedom from Fear Week 2016”