Government adds shopworker abuse amendment to crime bill

The government has tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, stating that assaults committed against shopworkers should be recognised as an aggravating offence.  The change will make attacking a retail worker an aggravated offence, resulting in tougher sentencing for offenders.

The amendment states that the courts must treat assaults committed “against a person providing a public service, performing a public duty or providing services to the public” as an aggravating factor. Policing minister Kit Malthouse wrote to the National Retail Crime Steering Group, which includes members such as the BRC and the ACS, confirming the Home Office had tabled the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.  It is due to be debated during the report stage in the House of Lords later this month.

The move has been welcomed by the ACS, which has repeatedly called for crimes against shopworkers to be taken more seriously, alongside the likes of the BRC, Usdaw and the Co-op.  “We welcome the government’s proposed amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which means that people who commit violent offences against retail workers can receive tougher sentences for their crimes,” BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson said.  “By tabling this amendment, government has signalled that it understands the seriousness of the issue facing retail workers, 455 of whom are abused or attacked every day at work.  If the police prosecute all reported violent incidents as aggravated offences and the courts sentence those convicted accordingly, retail workers will feel better protected, would-be offenders may be deterred, and we will begin to see the true scale of the problem faced by our hardworking colleagues.”

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