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'They will be someone's loved one' - shops' call to end violence towards staff

PUBLISHED: 12:38 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:38 19 November 2019

Central England Co-op store and the campaign poster. Photo: Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-op store and the campaign poster. Photo: Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative

Armed robberies, shoplifting and threats to staff are among the challenges retail workers have to face in stores across the region.

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op Chief Executive. Photo: Central England Co-operativeDebbie Robinson, Central England Co-op Chief Executive. Photo: Central England Co-operative

The Central England Co-operative (Co-op) has launched a campaign warning people that verbal and physical threats towards its workers will "not be tolerated".

The retailer has linked up with all major police forces in 16 counties, including Norfolk and Suffolk, where 30 stores are involved, to tackle this problem.

Incidents at its stores in Dersingham, Bungay and Brundall included armed robberies and threats to staff from shoplifters when they had been caught stealing.

Since January this year, Central England Co-op has already recorded 275 incidents of threats or intimidation, 171 cases of verbal abuse and 72 assaults across all 16 counties.

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Meanwhile, figures released by the British Retail Consortium reveal 115 employees are attacked or threatened a day in retail shops.

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op chief executive, 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."

To crack down on violence and aggression towards staff, the Co-op will introduce several new measures in stores, including improved CCTV systems and assistance buttons, increased numbers of security officers and store detectives, training for staff on what do in difficult situations and work with offenders to support integration back into communities.

Ms Robinson 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."

The rollout of a string of new measures last year to reduce incidents saw burglaries drop by six per cent and robberies drop by 30pc, despite the national trend which saw incidents jump by 137pc.

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