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Crimes against shop workers need to be treated far more seriously than they are today. One way to do that is to make sure the penalties available to courts create a proper deterrent. As an MP I have the chance to make that happen next week, especially if you can help me.
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Over this weekend, please would you encourage your own MP to back my amendment to the Government’s Offensive Weapons Bill. It’s quick and easy to do as you’ll see below. But first let me explain why we need to do this.
Before I became an MP, I used to work for the Co-op. I witnessed first-hand the threats that retail staff can face from some customers. For too long shop workers have been given no distinct protection in law and it is time for the UK Government to put in place the reform needed. And now we have the opportunity to make that happen.
What is the Offensive Weapons Bill?
On Monday the Offensive Weapons Bill will be brought back to the House of Commons. It is a chance for MPs to examine the Bill further following its scrutiny in committee. I’ll be introducing a new clause to the Bill which aims to give shop workers protection from those minority of customers who are abusive and threatening.
This Bill was introduced by the UK Government following the rise in acid and knife attacks. It will bring in place new restrictions to buying these items – as well as other products that can be used as a weapon.
It will make it the legal responsibility of retail workers to check if the person trying to buy the newly restricted items is fit to do so. However, it will give them no new protections for policing this policy with the shop staff member in the front line of enforcing the law.
What has been done so far?
Earlier this week you may have read from my colleague Alex Norris MP about his recently introduced a Ten-Minute Rule Bill in parliament, which would see shop workers protected during all their duties.
We need to build upon the excellent work of Alex in raising awareness and that’s where my amendment comes in. The amendment makes clear that threatening behaviour by an aggrieved customer will be subject to a penalty fine of up to £2500 if proved in court. We have been able to gain support from all sides of Parliament for the amendment and from shops small and large including the Co-op and crucially the shop workers’ union Usdaw.
I hope we can get this addition secured and then point out to the UK Government that it should be extended to all activities associated with being a retail employee.
Contact your MP
The Bill is being read on Monday and it’s still not too late to email your MP calling on them to support New Clause 1. I’ve been working with Usdaw – and they’ve made it easy to get in touch with your MP to let them know that this is important to you as their constituent.
We need the law to deter would-be aggressors from harming retail staff and the best way to do that is to introduce a new aggravated offence against a shop worker.
For too long retail workers have been handed more and more responsibilities but given fewer protections in the eyes of the law. It is time for that to change. We need shop workers to know that they are safe from threats and attacks. Thank you for making this happen.
Member of Parliament, Delyn