Daily Incidents of Abuse and Attacks on UK Shop Workers Surge to 1,300


The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has reported a 50% increase in violence and abuse against shop workers, with incidents rising to 1,300 per day last year. This is a significant increase from the previous year’s 870 incidents per day. The BRC criticised the government for its insufficient action in addressing this crisis.

Shoplifting also reached a record high, with losses amounting to £1.8bn, the highest ever recorded and the first time it has exceeded £1bn. The BRC survey revealed that customer theft had doubled to 16.7 million incidents annually, up from eight million.

Several business leaders are advocating for violence against shop workers to be recognised as a separate offence in England and Wales, as it is in Scotland. The types of incidents reported range from racial abuse and sexual harassment to physical assault and threats with weapons. Approximately 8,800 incidents resulted in injury.

Despite retailers investing around £1.2bn in crime prevention measures such as CCTV, increased security personnel, and body-worn cameras, violence and abuse against retail workers continue to rise. This trend has been particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government’s Retail Crime Action Plan has been seen as a beacon of hope, with a commitment from the police to prioritise crime scenes involving violence against shop workers. However, more than 50 businesses and several MPs have called for better recording of assaults on shop workers.

The Co-op reported a sharp increase in violence against its workers last year, with 1,325 physical attacks on staff in 2023. In September, the John Lewis boss labelled shoplifting as an “epidemic”.

You may also like...