NEW guidelines on protecting shopworkers have been issued after 36,000 fell victim to violence or abuse last year.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) survey also found crime cost businesses £511 million in 2012-13.
The BRC said this poses an “unacceptable threat to the health and wellbeing” of three million UK shopworkers.
Businesses now face the threat of unlimited fines, remedial orders and publicity orders if they fail to follow guidelines.
The new approach has been welcomed by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), which speaks for almost 10 per cent of businesses and 235,000 workers north of the Border.
David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said: “Violence or abusive behaviour towards shop staff in Scotland is wholly and utterly unacceptable.
“Retailers invest considerable time and resources in building and training their teams as well as protecting their workers, stock and property.
“Our industry guidelines are designed to help businesses of all sizes share and understand best practice in preventing staff from being attacked or abused.
“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 the same way as someone who commits such a crime on the street.”
Under the new guidelines, companies will be expected to encourage whistleblowing hotlines and victim support.
Firms are expected to make sure CCTV and other security equipment is in good working order, particularly in potentially vulnerable parts of the store, and that there is good lighting.
The guidelines also make clear that there should be signs telling customers – and reassuring staff – that violence against workers will not be tolerated. The BRC moves, underpinned through various pieces of existing legislation, also cover training.
The body says employees should be aware of how to identify and defuse a situation that may lead to violence or abuse.
The guidelines also stress the importance of working with police when crimes are committed, and a UK minister said people who assault shopworkers could face even stiffer punishments.
Norman Baker, the UK’s crime prevention minister, said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and the National Retail Crime Steering Group, which I co-chair with the BRC, considers violence against retailers to be a high priority. We will not tolerate violence towards shopworkers, and have been clear that the courts can take into account violence against those serving the public as an aggravating factor in considering the appropriate sentence.”
Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “Our guidelines are designed to help businesses of all sizes share and understand best practice in preventing staff from being attacked or abused. 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.”