John Healey MP with Usdaw representative and Wath-upon-Dearne Tesco worker Janine Bowler

Wentworth and Dearne MP, John Healey, says the government U-turn on making assaulting a shopworker a specific crime is welcome but long overdue.

The government announced today (10th April 2024) that assaulting a shopworker will be made a separate criminal offence despite previously saying it did not think a law change was required in response to a petition on the subject.

The change comes after the shopworkers union Usdaw revealed last year that two-thirds of its members working in retail were suffering abuse from customers.

John Healey MP said: “This latest U-turn by the government is welcome, but why has it taken so long for them to act? The Tories dither and delay has meant thousands of shopworkers have needlessly suffered physical and mental injury.

“We’ve been calling for tougher action on those who assault shop workers for the past 10 years but this government has voted against Labour plans for better protection.

“Shopworkers have reported that they’ve been spat at, threatened with knives and faced verbal abuse. It’s important that we respect our shopworkers who provide an important service. Abuse should not be part of the job.”

John has previously backed Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear campaign and shocking statistics from the union’s annual survey of members last year revealed that:

  • 65% have experienced verbal abuse
  • 42% were threatened by a customer
  • 5% were assaulted
  • 60% of incidents were triggered by shoplifting

The Labour Party announced plans earlier this week to tackle anti-social behaviour and shoplifting so that people feel safe when they go out to shop, eat or socialise in their local high street.

The plans include putting 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat and scrapping the Tories’ £200 rule which stops shoplifting being investigated.