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The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner is issuing a new warning to people that abuse of shop workers during lockdown will not be tolerated.

The warning comes during Respect for Shopworkers Week, which aims to protect retail workers from violence, intimidation and abuse.

At an online event, led by the shop workers’ trade union USDAW, Waheed Saleem, the Deputy PCC, listened to the concerns of shop workers about being victims of violence, abuse and crime.

In April an emergency chapter of the Police and Crime Plan was launched which enshrined within it that robust action should be taken against those targeting and intimidating health and retail staff.

Shop workers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic, ensuring that people have been able to have access to essential supplies. Staff in shops often work long hours in busy and challenging conditions. This is one of the reasons the PCC ensured that prioritising reports of crimes against them should be a top concern for West Midlands Police.

Following the event the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Waheed Saleem, said: “Shop workers have been heroic during the pandemic and we continue to thank them for their dedication.

“What I cannot tolerate is those who feel that it is ok to abuse, intimidate and threaten retail workers. It is unacceptable, always will be and the event today has shown that there is still more work to do to stamp out these crimes.

“The emergency Police and Crime Plan, focusing on the police response to the coronavirus pandemic, rightly addresses the challenges that retail staff face. We have seen, especially earlier in the year, a real rise in shop workers being attacked, spat at and abused.

“Being able to listen to shop workers first-hand today has given me the opportunity to see what more we need to do to ensure that we can keep retail staff safe.”

Gavin Dadley, Usdaw Divisional Officer, said: “It was deeply disturbing to hear the real life experiences of shopworkers at our online listening event, as part of Respect for Shopworkers Week.

“They really highlight the key message that abuse is not part of the job. Usdaw’s latest survey shows that 75% of retail staff have seen an increase in abuse during the coronavirus crisis. Behind that shocking statistic are thousands of working people, who deserve better than verbal abuse, threats and violence and we heard that very clearly.

“Usdaw and the Co-op organised this event to help engage with police and we were pleased to have representatives from across the West Midlands at the meeting. While we continue to work together on the ground to overcome these problems, we need Government intervention.

“However, the Government has offered little more than sympathy and rejected new legislation to create stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers. So we are asking the public to support retail staff by signing our petition to get the issue debated in the House of Commons.

“Retail staff are key workers delivering the essential service of keeping our communities fed. They deserve to be valued, respected and the protection of the law.”

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