Staff at Co-op in Portsmouth are issued with body-worn cameras to stem rising tide of violence against workers

STAFF at a Portsmouth Co-op have been issued with body-worn cameras to protect themselves against abusive customers.

Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 10:15 am

Now the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) has called for greater protection of shopworkers in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.

It comes after violence, threats and abuse against retail workers doubled during the height of the Covid-19 crisis earlier this year.

Retail staff were forced to put up with aggressive customers at the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March, when stores faced shortages due to panic buying.

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Co-op store manager in Winston Churchill Avenue, Daniel Hibbs, with the new body cameras. Picture: Sarah Standing (201120-8934)

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The attacks have pushed shops to take matters into their own hands.

At the Co-op store in Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth, employees have been given body cameras to protect both employees and other customers.

Stephen Morgan MP talks to Co-op employee Olga Attemann. Picture: Sarah Standing (201120-8888)

Visiting the store, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has urged residents to treat shop workers much better.

He said: ‘Shop and retail workers both here in Portsmouth and across the country have been the backbone of local communities during this pandemic.

‘During this crisis our key workers have been there to support us when we needed it most and it is only right we now do the same for them.

‘That’s why I am proud to support Usdaw’s Respect for Shopworkers Week to give shop and retail workers the protections they need during this crisis and beyond.’

Store manager Daniel Hibbs, left, and Stephen Morgan MP. Picture: Sarah Standing (201120-8854)

In recent months, retailers have faced plenty of challenges, both in shoplifting and some customers not following government Covid-19 guidelines.

Usdaw will not be running the annual campaign in its usual way this year, but has called for shop and retail workers to instead share their real-life experiences.

The union has also set up a petition that has called on the government to legislate to make it specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker.

In May The News reported that workers at a Spar in Portsmouth were lunged at by a man with a syringe – just one of the incidents of crime in shops in the first lockdown.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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