VIOLENT shoppers that hurl abuse at shop workers have prompted staff to stand up against the shockingly increasing trend and call for better protection.

According to statistics from the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) an estimated 18 per cent of shopworkers have suffered a violent attack last year, compared to eight per cent in 2022.

Members of Usdaw held a demonstration on Monday, March 13, calling for greater protections for staff and justice for victims.

Paddy Lillis, the general secretary of the union, said: “No one should feel afraid to go to work, but our evidence shows that too many retail workers are.

“It is shocking that nearly a fifth of our members working in retail are being assaulted for simply doing their job and serving the community. They provide an essential service and deserve our respect and the protection of the law.

“Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who are stealing to sell goods on.

“Our latest survey results show that seven in 10 retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence.

“Theft from shops and armed robbery were triggers for 61 per cent of these incidents.

“Violence and abuse is not an acceptable part of the job and much more needs to be done to protect shopworkers.”

Mr Lillis said that following the publication of a survey by Usdaw covering violence against shop workers, in which more than 5,500 people took part.

In addition, 70 per cent of respondents said they had experienced verbal abuse, and 46 per cent said they had been threatened by a customer.

Members of Usdaw in Reading received support from Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East. Mr Rodda said: “Violence against shop workers is increasing, putting enormous pressure on staff.

“I am calling on the Government to do much more to tackle this very serious issue.”

Laws protecting shop staff have either been passed or are currently being discussed in Parliament.

The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 made being a shopworker a statutory aggravating factor in assault cases.

Meanwhile, Usdaw has welcomed two amendments to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill put forward by shadow policing minister Alex Norris, the Labour MP for Nottingham North).

The first would create a standalone offence for abusing or assaulting a shop worker in the course of their duties, and the second would reverse the decriminalisation of shoplifting.

Currently, shoplifting of goods worth up to £200 is considered a civil offence, with offenders caught stealing being dealt a Fixed Penalty Notice, rather than a full prosecution.

Draft legislation for the Criminal Justice Bill will begin its remaining stages in the House of Commons on Wednesday, May 15 when these amendments could be debated and voted on by all MPs.