With 115 people a day attacked or threatened in UK shops, the Central England Co-operative is stepping up efforts to tackle violence and aggression towards staff.
Warning that such actions “will not be tolerated”, the society has launched an awareness campaign on the impact violence of against colleagues. Since January the retailer has recorded 275 incidents of threats/intimidation, 171 cases of verbal abuse and 72 assaults.
CEO Debbie Robinson said: “We want to send a clear message out to anyone who might act in a violent or aggressive way to colleagues in our store – this behaviour will not be tolerated.
“We want people to think long and hard about the person wearing our uniform – they will be someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandma or grandfather.
“We want people to ask themselves whether they would like their relatives to be confronted by someone in a violent or aggressive way – the answer is no, and therefore why should our colleagues or anyone who works in retail have to even consider facing up to this kind of behaviour?”
She added: “This campaign is designed to ensure our colleagues and their families are protected from the physical and emotional impact of violence and aggression and feel safe to come to work.
“We are working closely with local police forces to crackdown on this issue and have also installed a range of new security measures to assist us with that task.
“Everyone at Central England Co-op is proud to live, work and serve in our local communities – now we need people to work with us to make sure that violence and aggression towards our colleagues becomes a thing of the past.”
For the campaign Central England has teamed up with all major police forces across its trading estate
The retailer will also run an internal poster campaign in store, and is introducing a centrally monitored CCTV system, which allows colleagues to call for assistance at the touch of a button. And there will be more security officers and detectives in stores, stringent cash controls, and staff training on how to deal with violence or aggression.
At the same time, the retailer will be working with offenders to help them deal with underlying problems such as addiction and support their integration back into the community.
Robert Godson, loss prevention advisor at Central England, said: “We will be working closely with other retailers, police forces across the 16 counties in which we trade and the government to tackle the issue of violence and aggression towards colleagues.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent incidents like this from happening, but if something does happen we offer them support and counselling both from within our business and specialists.
“We will continue to constantly assess these problems to ensure that incidents continue to fall and that our stores are safe places to work and shop.”
Central England implemented new security measures last year, which, it says, have helped to reduce incidents, with burglaries dropping by 6% and robberies by 30%. By contrast, at national level such incidents have jumped by 137% and 508% respectively.