92% of Scottish convenience store owners ‘suffer retail crime’

Many local shop workers have experienced violence. Picture: Toby Williams
Many local shop workers have experienced violence. Picture: Toby Williams
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Small retailers are calling for same legal protection as emergency workers.

Small retailers are calling on the government to pass legislation to give shop workers the same legal protection as emergency workers after it emerged that 92 per cent of owners of convenience stores in Scotland said they had been victim to some form of crime in the past year.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Paul Wheelhouse MSP. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Speaking at the Scottish Grocers Federation’s (SGF) Retail Crime Seminar yesterday, the SGF argued that shop workers are also “frontline” workers and should be protected by legislation similar to the Emergency Workers Act Scotland 2005, which makes it a specific offence to assault, obstruct or hinder someone providing an emergency 
service.

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At the seminar, Glasgow shop worker Muhammad Jawad Ali, 30, spoke about an attack he suffered in January, when a man smashed a bottle into his face, leaving him with fractures and the loss of two teeth.

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “We know how serious in-store crime can be so it’s vital that we work effectively with Police Scotland and the other key agencies to create a safe working environment for retailers.

“In store crime impacts on retailers, their staff, their families and on customers. That’s why we are calling on whichever party forms the next Scottish government to pass legislation to give shop workers the same protection as emergency workers. Shop workers are frontline staff and are too often at the sharp end of violence and intimidation.”

Officials from the SGF are set to meet Paul Wheelhouse, Holyrood’s minister for community safety and legal affairs, to discuss the issue.

The data came from the SGF’s retail crime survey, which surveyed 200 businesses Scotland-wide about their experience of retail crime, which ranges from petty theft to violent attacks.

Mr Jawad Ali, who was attacked in the afternoon of 
3 January, when he was working at Lifestyle Express in Glasgow’s Dennistoun district, said his attacker had been abusive in the shop on previous occasions, but police had ignored his warnings.

“He had been in a few times and had been abusive, shouting at customers,” said Mr Jawad Ali. “He was clearly on drugs. I phoned the police but they had other priorities. The day of the attacks, he hit me from behind, smashing my face and my cheek. Then he grabbed the till, but he left it.

“I still suffer from anxiety and depression and do not feel safe at work anymore.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland’s justice system provides for protection for all workers.”