Central England Co-op steps up crime campaign after threats against store workers

The retail society has also launched a ‘be kind’ campaign after a rise in abuse, assaults and anti-social behaviour

Central England Co-op has redoubled its message to would-be criminals that ‘it is not worth the risk’ to target its stores, following an incident at a Birmingham store in which staff were threatened with violence.

This came after the retailer asked people to ‘be kind’ as part of a campaign encouraging customers to treat shop colleagues with respect.

The incident occurred at the Great Barr food store. Several young females were asked to leave the shop and later returned with a group of males who threatened to attack colleagues with knives. No one was injured and the colleagues are helping police with their investigation.

The ‘be kind’ campaign was launched after new statistics showed a rise in knife attacks, verbal abuse, criminal damage and staff being hospitalised.

The research revealed that in the last 12 months, incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167%, anti-social behaviour by 39%, assaults by 35% and threats by 16% compared to 2019.

To help combat the problem, Central England Co-op recently rolled out a range of measures including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

The retailer has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shop workers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.

Craig Goldie, loss prevention manager, said: “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this unacceptable incident in Birmingham.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues who are just doing their job.

“These types of incidents reinforce our ongoing campaign calling for better protection for shop workers and highlight our zero-tolerance policy on all types of crime aimed at our colleagues and customers.

“Once again, we are sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it is not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”