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Tesco boss backs staff call for criminalisation of violence against store staff

UK chief executive of Tesco Jason Tarry is supporting a petition calling on the government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence. 

The petition was started by Jenny Whyte who works in Tesco convenience stores in the North of England. Tesco said that thousands of people have signed the petition, with the government required to debate the matter in parliament should the number of signatories exceed 100,000. 

In September, Tesco said that violence against its staff had risen by around a third. The supermarket has recently taken several measures to protect its employees from violence in stores, including rolling out body worn cameras and toughened glass safety screens in convenience stores and petrol station kiosks. 

Figures from the British Retail Consortium show that there were around 850 incidents of violence and abuse against retail workers every day in the period from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. 

Earlier this month around 88 UK retail decision makers called on the government to tackle the rising rates of retail crime in an open letter to home secretary Suella Braverman. 

“I am fully behind the petition to make the abuse of retail workers a standalone offence,” said Tarry. “We want our colleagues to be safe at work.”

The chief executive continued: “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.”

Jenny Whyte, who started the petition said:  “Nobody should come to work afraid that they could be assaulted or abused for just doing their job. 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 sign the petition, click here.

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