Usdaw Whitehall visit marks first staff respect day

Retail crime was a hot topic in Whitehall on Wednesday, as union leaders met Home Secretary David Blunkett and Prime Minister Tony Blair to mark the first National Respect for Shopworkers Day.

The event was part of shop staff union Usdaw's Freedom from Fear campaign, which aims to protect staff from violence and abuse. Retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Woolworths have already signed up to the Workers Charter drawn up by the union.

'Retailers need to implement security measures to ensure the abuse stops,' said a spokesman from Usdaw. The union is also calling for the police to list retail crime as a key performance indicator.

There has been a sharp increase in crime against retail staff recently.

According to figures from the British Retail Consortium, 18 staff per 1,000 were subject to threats of violence last year.

BRC director general Bill Moyes said: 'We will be keeping pressure on the Government to deal with this issue, as a key step in ensuring safer streets and safer shopping.'