According to the British Retail Consortium crime survey 2015 in 2014-15, there were 41 incidents of violence and abuse per 1,000 employees, up from 32 the previous year. Most were cases of non-physical abuse or aggressive behaviour, but 21 incidents per 1,000 staff were violent.
Usdaw has been running its Freedom from Fear campaign against violence and abuse towards shop workers since 2003. In 2016, the interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear survey show that nearly half of shopworkers are verbally abused and a quarter are threatened. Based on 2,250 responses, the survey found that over 12 months, 44% of shopworkers were verbally abused and 25% were threatened. 8.4% had been assaulted, with 32% not reporting the incident.
Usdaw has produced various advice leaflets aimed at helping keep workers safe from violence.
Usdaw's ten pointers to a safer workplace are as follows:
- Be prepared – know what to do if there is a robbery. Your employer should have a procedure in place to deal with them.
- Physical protection – depending on what is appropriate, your employer should have installed security devices (such as CCTV and panic buttons) and you should be shown how to operate them.
- Training – your employer should train you so that you know what to do, including how to follow safe working procedures, and how to operate security equipment.
- Cash handling – cash should be kept out of sight and not allowed to build up in the till.
- Banking – where possible, banking should be done by specialist security staff. You should not go to the bank on foot or by public transport, you should not go alone, and you should have had proper training.
- Shoplifters – more than half of physical assaults on shop staff are connected with shoplifting. Your employer should have a procedure in place to deal with shoplifters. The procedure should make it clear to staff that they should not risk their safety to protect property.
- Armed robbery – you should be trained to handle robbery situations. You should do what the robber tells you, not resist, avoid sudden movements, and not raise the alarm until it is safe to do so.
- Working alone – avoid working alone at high risk times, such as late at night. Employers should take extra precautions to protect staff working alone, for example in petrol kiosks.
- Report incidents to your supervisor or manager.
- Make sure you enter any accident or incident in the accident book.
- Review procedures, in consultation with staff, to make sure procedures are working properly.
- Compensation – if you are injured or suffer an illness because of work, contact your union rep or get legal advice. Find out more in our Personal Injury Claims section.
See the Usdaw Freedom from Fear web pages for more information.