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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Tesco CEO Backs Petition To Protect Shop Staff

Tesco’s UK CEO has thrown his weight behind a new petition calling on the Government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence.

The petition which has been lodged with Parliament this week by a Tesco worker, calls for lawmakers to act and toughen up the laws protecting shop staff.

It comes amid a rising tide of verbal abuse and assaults on retail workers, with Tesco reporting that violent incidents against its store workers are up by a third on this time last year and British Retail Consortium figures showing 850 incidents each day of violence and abuse towards British store staff.

Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said: “I am fully behind the petition to make the abuse of retail workers a standalone offence. We want our colleagues to be safe at work. Creating a standalone offence not only sends a strong message to the small but violent group of people who abuse and attack shopworkers, but also makes it clear to shopworkers that as a nation we take protecting them seriously. I would encourage anyone who wants to see retail workers better protected to sign the petition, as every signature makes a difference.”

The petition was started by Jenny Whyte, who works in Tesco convenience stores in the North of England.

“Nobody should come to work afraid that they could be assaulted or abused for just doing their job,” she said. “Things have definitely got worse over the past few years, and some of the incidents that colleagues have had to deal with are truly shocking. The Government could show it is serious about protecting retail workers on the front line with a specific offence, and I hope this petition will encourage them to do that.”

To tackle the increasing abuse of shopworkers, Tesco has brought in further measures to protect its colleagues, including body cameras that colleagues can choose to wear, and new toughened glass safety screens being fitted in more than 300 Tesco Express convenience stores and petrol station kiosks.

Thousands of people across Britain have already backed the petition, and if the number of signatories passes 10,000 then the Government will have to respond to it. If it gathers 100,000 signatures it may be debated in Parliament. Find out more and sign the petition here

The wording of the petition is:

Make abuse or violence towards retail workers a standalone criminal offence.

We are calling on the Government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence. This is necessary to send a strong signal to victims and perpetrators; to give workers the legal protection they deserve; and to tackle the scourge of abuse plaguing the retail sector.

The British Retail Consortium’s crime survey found that violence and abuse against retail workers has almost doubled from more than 450 incidents per day in 2019-20 to over 850 last year. This is unacceptable. Last year, after a long-running campaign by retailers and USDAW, the UK Government made attacking shopworkers an aggravating factor in assault convictions. This was welcome but, one year on with the epidemic of violence against colleagues continuing, it is clear that we need to go further.


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