Violence and abuse against retail workers will be put under the spotlight in the latest accountability meeting to be hosted by County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen.
The meeting will be held on Thursday 22nd September and will see the Commissioner examining the progress being made against her Police and Crime Plan priority to tackle business crime and increase understanding of the crime, threats and abuse faced by retailers and shop workers.
It comes as a new crime survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveals a huge rise in the number of incidents against retail workers with 1,300 reported every day between April 2020 and March 2021 – almost treble the 455 per day reported in the previous year.
The BRC is increasingly concerned about reports of rising levels of violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour linked to tackling shoplifting – an issue Commissioner Allen is already working hard to address to ensure businesses and retailers receive the support and help they deserve.
The BRC’s letter to politicians and PCCs about the issue has won the backing of more than 100 leaders across England and Wales and Commissioner Allen has pledged her own support to the organisation, welcoming its recommendations to improve the safety of retail workers.
Members of the public are invited to submit questions ahead of Commissioner Allen’s meeting to put any concerns they have about the issue to the Chief Constable and senior leadership team.
Commissioner Allen said: “We are indebted to our retail workers for the commitment and courage they showed during lockdown, and it is incomprehensible that customers would express anything other than gratitude for their service.
“Abuse whether physical or verbal should never be tolerated, and I am pleased this new legislation gained royal assent earlier this year. I am keen to understand more about the experiences of local shop workers and how they are currently being supported which is the purpose behind this accountability meeting.
“I would urge anybody who has concerns about this issue or indeed has been a victim of abuse while in the course of their retail work to submit any questions prior to the meeting so they can be raised and answered at the highest level.
“My accountability meetings provide local people with a platform for airing their concerns and help me to identify any areas of improvement needed to increase the quality of services local people receive.”
Nationally, levels of abuse against retail workers reached new highs in the pandemic as shop staff sought to uphold social distancing restrictions to protect the public.
As a result, new legislation was introduced earlier this year through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act making abuse against shop workers an aggravated offence with tougher punishments for offenders.
Public accountability meetings enable the PCC to hold the Chief Constable and Durham Constabulary to account for policing and were developed by Commissioner Allen as part of her commitment to delivering transparency and openness on behalf of the public.
Previous meetings have focused on off road bikes, violence against women and girls, alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and plans for a centralised custody facility. Recordings of meetings are available via YouTube.
To submit a question, please email: email@example.com before 5pm on Monday 5th September 2022.
The meeting will be available to view on YouTube post session: https://www.youtube.com/user/DurhamPCC
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