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RETAIL ENVIRONMENT

Protection for Scottish store staff comes into force

A new law that has come into effect this month means that verbal or physical attacks against anyone working in a retail store in Scotland will be regarded as a specific offence.

The news follows a campaign by the Federation of Independent Retailers for a change in the law to protect shop workers.

Following a recent decision by the Scottish Government to support a Bill introduced by Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 will ensure the seriousness of offending is highlighted through a specific offence and allow for tougher sentences for offenders.

In a recent letter to the NFRN, the Federation of Independent Retailers, Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for justice and veterans in the Scottish parliament, said: “It is absolutely right that retail workers are protected by our criminal laws". 

Although existing laws criminalise the verbal and physical abuse of retail workers and provide our courts with the discretion to impose robust maximum penalties, the Scottish Government understood and accepted that, for many, they have not felt safe or protected, even with the existing law in place.

“The Scottish Government and I recognise the important role that retail workers play within our local communities and indeed the Scottish economy. In normal times, they make a significant contribution, but during this coronavirus outbreak that contribution has only been more emphasised as they are helping communities all across Scotland get through these challenging times.”

NFRN Scottish President Ferhan Ashiq said: “I would like to commend Daniel Johnson MSP for spearheading this very important Bill and getting it passed through parliament.

“Shop workers are at the frontline and have to deal with physical and verbal threats on a near daily basis for simply doing their jobs.

“The rules around the enforcing of COVID-19 regulations merely strengthened the case for the need for this law more than ever.”

The law is only in force in Scotland with lawmakers at Westminster still choosing to rely on the existing laws to protect store staff. 

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