'Theft, abuse and violence against retail workers running rampant'

Shoplifting offences also reached a 'staggering' level in 2021, with almost all retailers reporting daily theft.

Theft, abuse and violence against Scottish retail workers running rampant, survey shows iStock

Theft, abuse and violence against Scottish retail workers is still widespread, a new report has revealed.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) 2022 Crime Report found that 100% of respondents reported at least some level of threat, abuse or violence in the previous year.

Additionally, 95% of retailers surveyed also reported being victims of hate crimes, with the biggest trigger for aggression and abuse being the enforcement of age restrictions and challenging customers for proof of age.

Shoplifting offences also reached a “staggering” level in 2021, with almost all respondents reporting experiencing theft on a daily basis.

This adds to fears that thefts will only increase, with the booming cost of living crisis contributing to soaring prices of everyday items.

A police chief recently warned that these incidents would only increase in frequency as prices continued to go up.

“Retailers and staff provide an essential community service, and it is completely unacceptable that they are forced to turn up to work and face threating abuse or violence,” said Pete Cheema, SGF chief executive.

The report also produced figures claiming that the annual cost of store crime for respondents totalled £2.3m, with an average of £2,000 spent per shop to implement security measures.

Police Scotland figures showed a staggering 3,099 retail crimes reported since the launch of the Protection of Workers Act 2021 – with threatening abuse and assault making up the majority of cases, at 1,750 and 1,333 respectively.

“We have taken great strides with the introduction of the Protection of Workers Act, which came in to force last August. Our report shows, however, that 100% of retailers are regularly affected by crime, seriously impacting the wellbeing of both workers and their families. Every incident is one too many,” Mr Cheema continued.

“The evidence is clear that in-store crime remains shockingly high and until there is significant improvement to the figures we are seeing, the SGF will be calling for a zero-tolerance approach.”

Police Scotland has been approached for comment.