MSP proposes fresh laws to increase protection for shop and bar workers after rise in attacks

Scottish Government states that everyone already has full protection in Scotland’s justice system from assault and abuse, including shop-workers

NEW LEGISLATION has been proposed to protect shop workers after new figures revealed a 10-year high on the number of incidents being recorded.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is due to begin consultation on his members’ bill aiming to create new offences regarding assaults on shop workers and others who are involved in the sale and supply of age-restricted goods and services, like bars and off-licences.

The consultation comes after new data revealed that the rates of violence and abuse directed at shop workers was at its highest level in 10 years.

Johnson said: “I am pleased to be launching the consultation for a bill which will provide additional protection to workers. The issue of violence and abuse against workers continues to grow, and many workers have told me that they now see it as just part of the job. My bill aims to provide legislative solutions, by creating new offences for those who assault or abuse workers.

“The issue of violence and abuse against workers continues to grow, and many workers have told me that they now see it as just part of the job. “ Daniel Johnson

“I would encourage anyone who can to contribute to the consultation at www.notpartofthejob.com and have their say on how we can protect workers.”

The Edinburgh Southern MSP has received support from organisations such Scottish Grocers’ Federation and Scotmid ahead of the launch today.

Scottish Grocer’s Federation chief executive Pete Cheema said:  “Daniel’s proposed legislation represents a unique – perhaps a once-in-a-generation – opportunity to create a safer retail environment for staff and customers. We are delighted to be supporting the consultation and would urge businesses, trade associations and communities to respond positively to it. “

Scotmid Co-operative’s head of profit protection Jim McFedries said: “As a community convenience retailer with a sizeable presence across Scotland, Scotmid would welcome the introduction of new legislation to protect our colleagues from violence and abuse.

“Daniel’s proposed legislation represents a unique – perhaps a once-in-a-generation – opportunity to create a safer retail environment for staff and customers” Pete Cheema 

“Unfortunately incidents of this nature happen on an alarmingly frequent basis, so anything that can help eliminate this type of behaviour is a progressive step.

“We strongly believe our staff should not be subjected to violence or anti-social behaviour when adhering to legal requirements while selling age-restricted goods and simply doing their jobs.”

Last month, new data revealed that the rates of violence and abuse against shopworkers were at its highest levels in 10 years.

According to the survey from the British Retail Consortium, there was a 363 per cent increase in the number of violent or abusive incidents since 2011-12.

“We strongly believe our staff should not be subjected to violence or anti-social behaviour when adhering to legal requirements while selling age-restricted goods and simply doing their jobs.” Jim McFedries

Trade union Usdaw has previously campaigned on the issue has revealed in a separate survey that 70 per cent of shop workers in Scotland have also suffered from verbal abuse.

USDAW’s Scottish divisional officer, Stewart Forrest, said: “All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, those who are can receive derisory sentences. In other cases, where the offender isn’t even charged, victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted.

“So our members very much welcome Daniel Johnson’s bid to provide stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, the judiciary and most importantly criminals. We hope that MSPs from all parties and the Scottish Government will give this Bill their full support.

“Shop workers are on the frontline of policing the law on the sale of alcohol, knives, glue and acid. Parliament has given shop workers the responsibility to police those laws, so parliament should provide shop workers with the necessary protection. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities, and that role must be valued and respected.”

“Shop workers are on the frontline of policing the law on the sale of alcohol, knives, glue and acid. Parliament has given shop workers the responsibility to police those laws, so parliament should provide shop workers with the necessary protection.” Stewart Forrest

While the Scottish government said that Scotland’s justice system already protects everyone from assault and abuse, including shop workers, it added that further proposals would be looked at.  

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:  “Those who threaten or abuse shop workers can be prosecuted using, for example, offences of assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and breach of the peace.  Penalties are available all the way up to life imprisonment for the most serious, violent cases of assault and breach of the peace.  We fully support our police, prosecutors and courts in dealing robustly with people who offend against such workers. We will consider carefully any proposals in this area.”

Picture courtesy of Anne Worner

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