Scottish shop bosses have vowed to get even tougher on troublemakers as a new law giving their staff greater protection comes into force today.
The Protection of Workers Act is a law long called for by retailers and which has been welcomed by the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), which supported Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson as his Bill was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament.
SGF Chief Executive Dr Pete Cheema said: “Today marks a major milestone in Scotland’s approach to retail crime, demonstrating that assaults, threats and abuse against shop staff will not be tolerated and will be punished.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe. Far too many retail workers are left terrified by the trouble they are forced to deal with. No-one should have to put up with becoming a victim of crime simply for doing their job.
“The Protection of Workers Act will give confidence that these crimes are taken seriously and those responsible will be brought to justice. To ensure that, we need to get even tougher on trouble and report every crime in Scotland’s shops.”
SGF has launched its Don’t Put Up With It Campaign to encourage everyone in retail to take a zero-tolerance stance and contact police.
It is supported by the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Crimestoppers and has led to the bosses of hundreds of convenience stores across the country pledging to report every crime.
Scotland’s Community Safety Minister, Ash Denham, heard about the difference the law will make when she visited Scotmid’s Leven Street store at Tollcross in Edinburgh today, meeting staff and SGF leaders.
She said: “Retail workers play a vital role serving our communities, which has been clearly demonstrated during the pandemic, and they should not have to tolerate any form of abuse, threats or violence as part of their job.
“The Don’t Put Up With It campaign will play a huge part in encouraging retail workers to report retail crime and, alongside legislation, we can collectively stop abuse, threats and violence towards our retail workers across Scotland.
“Improved recording of data will help us understand the extent of the problem of attacks on retail workers and the Act will also highlight to Courts particular issues around the sale of age-restricted goods.
“We fully support law enforcement agencies using their powers to take action to deal with attacks and threats on retail workers where necessary.”
Scotmid has been a prominent supporter of the Don’t Put Up With It campaign, displaying banners in a number of its stores. It has welcomed the new law.
Gavin Randell, Scotmid’s Director of Retail Operations, met Ms Denham in Edinburgh.
He said: “As a community convenience retailer with a sizeable presence across Scotland, Scotmid welcomes the new legislation to protect our colleagues from violence and abuse.
“Time and again we have seen the upsetting impact of crime on our staff. It’s frightening, traumatic and absolutely needless.
“The Protection of Workers Act sends the message loud and clear that there is no place for violence and abuse in Scotland’s shops and that those who subject our staff to it will be prosecuted. We will be reporting every crime to the police.”
Daniel Johnson, who also met Scotmid and SGF at the Edinburgh store, vowed to continue his work to ensure the new law is enforced.
He said: “The passage of my Bill represents a victory for all retail staff subjected to abuse on a daily basis, an abuse that many within the sector took as part of the job.
“This enactment can begin the process of changing the culture in our shops – that assaulting the person behind the counter somehow isn’t serious and that it won’t be handled by the police.”
People can show their support for the Don’t Put Up With It campaign by using #DontPutUpWithIt on social media.
Crimes should be reported to Police Scotland on 101. Call 999 in an emergency. Witnesses can contact Crimestoppers anonymously – 0800 555 111.