Usdaw calls for proof of age scheme to combat violence

Shopworkers' union Usdaw published the findings of its survey into violence against staff to coincide with its first Respect for Shopworkers Week, which started on Monday.

The survey, conducted over a week in June, found that staff were subjected to 887 incidents of verbal abuse, 224 threats and, most worryingly, 107 cases of physical assault, such as slapping and kicking.

The research was based on the experiences of 660 employees, most of whom work in convenience stores.

A significant proportion of the violent outbursts recorded took place when staff requested proof of age before selling cigarettes and alcohol, and when they refused to serve drunk customers.

In response, Usdaw is calling for the introduction of a compulsory proof of age scheme. 'Without doubt, the continued absence of such a scheme is putting shopworkers' safety at risk,' said the union's general secretary John Hannett.

'It is time for this sector of the workforce to be given the respect they deserve and the protection they should have as a basic right,' he added.