The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has launched guidelines to protect the retail sector’s 3 million employees from violence.

The guidelines are endorsed by the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention Norman Baker, shop workers’ union Usdaw and the Association of Convenience Stores.

The BRC created the document Tackling violence against staff after its Retail Crime Survey, which was published last month, found that there were 38 incidents of violence and abuse per 1,000 employees in 2012/13. That equated to 25,000 instances of abusive or aggressive behavior towards staff and more than 11,000 incidents of violence, the majority of which resulted in injury to the shop worker.  

Baker said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and the National Retail Crime Steering Group, which I co-chair with the British Retail Consortium, considers violence against retailers to be a high priority.

“The Government supports the publication of these guidelines, which we hope will help retailers better protect themselves and their staff and educate shop workers in how to diffuse potential flashpoints. We also hope this guidance will improve crime reporting rates which we know are under reported.

“We will not tolerate violence towards shop workers, and have been very clear that the courts can take into account violence against those serving the public as an aggravating factor in considering the appropriate sentence.”

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Beyond what retailers can themselves do, it is important that the police and criminal justice system respond effectively to those who are violent or threatening towards people who work in retail.  They should be dealt with in exactly the same way as someone who commits such a crime on the street.”