ACS welcomes new law to protect retail staff in Scotland

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the introduction of a new statutory offence in Scotland for assaulting, threatening or abusing a retail worker.

The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-Restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act, initially proposed by Daniel Johnson MSP, was backed unanimously by MSPs in January and comes into force today.

ACS has supported colleagues at the shopworkers union Usdaw and the Scottish Grocers Federation who have led the campaign for this legislation.

Figures from ACS’ 2021 Crime Report show that there were over 40,000 incidents of violence in the convenience sector over the last year. There have also been over 1.26m incidents of verbal abuse in the last 12 months, with 89% of the people working in the convenience sector reporting being the victim of verbal abuse.

ACS chief executive James Lowman (pictured) said, “The introduction of legislation in Scotland on the protection of retail workers sends a clear message to offenders that violent and abusive behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Now we need the police, courts and businesses to take these offences seriously and to use these enhanced penalties effectively.

“We need Westminster to provide the same reassurance and protection for all UK retail workers who have been working tirelessly to serve their communities throughout the course of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Similar measures to introduce a separate offence for assaulting retail workers in Westminster have to date been rejected by Government. Tougher penalties for those who attack retail workers are set to be considered again in the House of Lords as part of the passage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on 14 September.