South Tyneside shop workers urged to report abuse after 'worrying' figures released

Shop workers in South Tyneside are being encouraged to report abuse as part of a new campaign.

Organisers of the #AlwaysReportAbuse campaign say aim is to challenge the perception that being subject to verbal abuse and aggressive behaviour is a normal part of working in the retail industry.

Picture from Northumbria Police

Picture from Northumbria Police

Figures from the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2019 Crime Report show that 83% of staff working in local shops have been subjected to verbal abuse within the past 12 months, while USDAW’s 2018 survey of shop workers shows that 12% of those working in retail have been physically assaulted in their career.

Recent years have seen a number of high-profile crimes against shop workers in South Tyneside. Just last week a shopkeeper in South Shields was left terrified when a hooded raider with a knife made off with £2,000. Police are investigating.

But authorities fear all too often incidents seen as lesser crimes go unreported.

The Home Office is urging retailers and their staff to report every single incidence of abuse when it happens, either by 999 in an emergency or 101 for other incidents, or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they want to report incidents anonymously.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “In the convenience sector, thousands of retailers and their colleagues are attacked every year, with many more subject to aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse just for doing their job.

"There is never an excuse for being abusive toward people working in local shops, and it mustn’t be normalised. Abuse is a crime and it always needs to be reported.”

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said: “All too often shop workers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job. Worryingly, Usdaw’s survey reveals that over half did not report an incident, with one in five not reporting to their employer something as serious as an assault.

"My message to shop workers is very clear, abuse is not a part of the job. It is really important that staff do tell their manager when they experience violence, threats or abuse and it’s really important that these incidents are also reported to the police. Report it to sort it!”

Rodger Holden, a Crimestoppers charity spokesperson, said: “At Crimestoppers, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe from crime, whether it’s at home, whilst out and about, or in your place of work. Shop workers play a vital role in our community and should never have to endure abuse, let alone violence, as part of their working lives.

"We urge anyone with information who prefers to stay completely anonymous to report what they know by calling 0800 555 111 or by using our anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. Together, we can help make our shops, towns and communities safer for all.”

The campaign is also targeting the public with a series of powerful stories of people working in retail that have been subject to serious attacks, armed robberies and other offences to highlight the human impact of crime.

The Home Office-funded campaign is being delivered by the Association of Convenience Stores, and campaign supporters include Crimestoppers, USDAW, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, the Co-Operative, McColls, SPAR, Nisa Retail, Booker, Costcutter, Londis, BP, Sewell Group and James Convenience Retail.