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Source: London Assembly

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the volume of such threats, abuse and assaults on shopworkers has more than doubled compared with 2019 – to the point where the average worker is subject to an incident of this kind every 6.5 days.  

The London Assembly has today called on the Mayor of London to write to the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, and urge her to introduce legislation that creates a specific offence of threatening, abusing or assaulting a shopworker, carrying a sufficient penalty to act as a deterrent and address this shameful situation. 

Unmesh Desai AM, who proposed the motion said: 
 
“Shopworkers have been amongst the unsung heroes on the frontline of the pandemic, but since the start of the outbreak they have sadly and unacceptably been subjected to a surge in physical and verbal abuse from customers. 

“As we enter a second lockdown, essential retail workers will be working under increased pressures and doing their best to encourage customers to wear masks and social distance. They should not be coming under threat for this. 

“It is clear that more protections are needed. This is why I am urging the Mayor to lobby the Home Secretary to put forward new legislation, as proposed by USDAW, that makes it a specific offence to attack or threaten a shopworker”. 

The full text of the motion is: 

 
“This Assembly notes with concern that shopworkers are frequently the targets of threats, abuse and assaults, and that since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the volume of such threats, abuse and assaults on shopworkers has more than double compared with 2019 – to the point where the average worker is subject to an incident of this kind every 6.5 days.  

This Assembly further notes the important role played by shopworkers as key workers in our society, something which became clear to us all during the most restrictive phase of the lockdown. This Assembly also notes the importance of social distancing and wearing face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and that shopworkers are often attacked for enforcing the Government restrictions.  

This Assembly believes that all workers have the right to do their work without being at risk of threat, abuse or assault and that the current situation faced by shopworkers is absolutely unacceptable and to be condemned.  

This Assembly supports The Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill as proposed by Alex Norris MP and subsequently objected to by the Government with the second reading delayed to 30 October 2020. The Bill calls to make certain offences, including malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault, aggravated when perpetrated against a retail worker in the course of their employment. The Bill is supported by 23 major British retailers and the sector’s leading industry bodies.  

This Assembly calls on the Mayor of London to write to the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, and urge her to introduce legislation that creates a specific offence of threatening, abusing or assaulting a shopworker, carrying a sufficient penalty to act as a deterrent and address this shameful situation.”  

MIL OSI United Kingdom