Shoppers in Portsmouth urged to be kind to shop workers at Christmas amid growing levels of abuse and violence

SHOPPERS are being urged to ‘be kind’ in a national campaign amid growing levels of abuse and violence against workers.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:55 am

Police and crime commissioner for Hampshire Donna Jones and an MP have backed the #ShopKind campaign launched by the Association of Convenience Stores today.

Southern Co-op, which operates The Co-operative Food stores, as well as funeral and coffee services across the south, is working with some of the UK's biggest retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers as part of the initiative.

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Stephen Morgan with Co-op workers

The campaign to be kind to shop workers this Christmas comes after 455 violent or abusive incidents against shop workers were recorded each day across the UK according to a recent survey.

The report also revealed that 89 per cent of people working in local shops have experienced some form of abuse.

It is hoped #ShopKind will encourage positive behaviour in shops and highlight the predicament workers are facing.

Ms Jones said: ‘Fear of being hurt whilst at work is not acceptable. Retail staff should not fear for their safety and I encourage everyone to consider this when out shopping in the run up to Christmas.

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones. Picture: OPCC

‘Many of these staff have worked throughout the pandemic to keep shops open and will be continuing to work incredibly hard during the festive period to assist customers. They deserve to be treated with respect, not abused or harassed for doing their job. A few kind words can often go a long way.’

Gareth Lewis​, loss prevention and security manager at Southern Co-op, said: ‘Christmas is not always a happy time of year for everyone and the pressure can become overwhelming. Our store colleagues often bear the brunt of this as it quickly turns into rage and an unacceptable verbal attack.

‘Whilst there have been some improvements in crime levels, sadly, verbal abuse has increased across our 200 stores over the last 12 months compared to the previous year. So, while we continue to invest in and take action to protect our colleagues, we would urge everyone to think and shop kind this Christmas.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan added: ‘Shop and retail workers both here in Portsmouth and across the country have been the backbone of local communities over the last 18 months.

‘During this crisis, our key workers have been there to support us when we needed it most.

‘The very least they deserve is to be treated with the dignity and respect we would all normally expect from each other when in our place of work.’

The Victim Care Service, commissioned by the police and crime commissioner, provides help and support for victims of crime, including small retail business owners and staff.

Phone 0808 178 1641 or go to hampshireiowvictimcare.co.uk

Further advice is available at hampshire-pcc.gov.uk/business

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