Lockdown panic buyers threatened Tesco supermarket security guard with knives and syringes

A FORMER supermarket security guard has lifted the lid on dealing with ‘anarchy’ caused by lockdown panic buyers.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 12:43 pm

Paul Eite, from Hayling Island, said he was threatened with scissors, knives and syringes while on duty outside a Tesco store in Portsmouth during the first coronavirus lockdown.

His team even had a leg of lamb and a mountain bike thrown at them during the three-month spell monitoring panic-buying shoppers at the Fratton Extra brand, next to Fratton Park.

‘It was anarchy – like dealing with the worst clubbers high on cocaine,’ said Paul, 43.

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Paul Eite, from Hayling Island

The 5ft 11in former ice hockey player has years of experience running security in pubs and bars – and he now runs his own security firm Unified Group which employs 44 staff.

But he said nothing prepared him for the jaw-dropping behaviour of some desperate shoppers struggling to accept new rules.

He said: ‘Over the previous two years working the doors I had to physically restrain seven people. It took about four hours at Tesco to have to do the same.

‘One shoplifter took a swing at my colleague. Then his friend came over, threw his mountain bike at us and pulled out some scissors – I ended up getting my hand cut.

Paul Eite, from Hayling Island

‘It just went on and on. To be fair, 90 per cent of the customers were fantastic, given the situation. But there were some who caused us lots of problems.

‘On one occasion we had someone trying to kick in the glass doors to get into the store – it was madness.

‘There were customers shouting at disabled people and even two women in their 60s smashing their trolleys into each other because one thought the other was jumping the queue.

‘One had to be taken away in an ambulance.’

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Tesco said that it had been working with security firms in order to protect its staff after it had seen an increase in violent behaviour towards its workers.

A Tesco statement said: ‘Our colleagues work hard to serve our customers every day and the vast majority of customers are appreciative of their efforts.

‘However we have seen an increase in violent and aggressive behaviour towards our colleagues and security officers in recent months.

‘We do not tolerate abusive behaviour of any kind and we have measures in place to keep our colleagues safe. We continue to work closely with Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and other retailers to tackle this issue.’

Other retailers such as Asda and Co-op have also beefed up their security, with some Co-op staff even being issued with body-worn cameras in a bid to deter abuse.

A national petition set up the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers Trade Union is calling for attacks or abuse against shop workers to be a specific offence.

It has reached more than 100,000 signatures meaning it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

Hundreds of people across The News’ area have signed – 282 in Portsmouth North, 266 in Portsmouth South, 250 in Fareham, 174 in the Meon Valley, 236 in Gosport and 231 in Havant.

Paul spoke out after receiving training from Get Licensed. He said their guidance helped equip him with the tools to survive.

He said: ‘You don’t have to be big or imposing, it’s all about how you are and how you present yourself.

‘Communication skills are key, plus you have to keep your eye on the ball – you often sense when things are about to go wrong.

‘The training I did through Get Licensed was excellent.’

For more go to get-licensed.co.uk

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