Edinburgh MSP calls for more protection for pub workers

New legislation will protect bar staff. Picture: Jacky GhosseinNew legislation will protect bar staff. Picture: Jacky Ghossein
New legislation will protect bar staff. Picture: Jacky Ghossein
AN EDINBURGH MSP is hoping to improve protection for shop and pub workers by creating new offences around the abuse of staff involved in the sale of age-restricted products.

Daniel Johnson said instances of violence towards shop staff has become “too commonplace” after figures revealed a 40-per-cent increase in disturbances involving those charged with the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

Mr Johnson, MSP for Edinburgh Southern, now wants to establish a new series of offences around the abuse of retail workers and will bring forward consultation on a Member’s Bill at the Scottish Parliament later this month.

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Figures from the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) show that refusal of sale and challenging for ID are consistently among the main triggers for incidents of abuse in-store.

If successful, it is hoped the new laws will help prevent shop staff from physical and verbal harm.

Speaking at the SGF conference yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “Violence and abuse has become far too commonplace for staff in shops, bars and pubs across Scotland. It is unacceptable for us to regard such abuse as ‘just part of the job’. “That’s why I am delighted to announce that I am bringing forward legislation to protect workers across Scotland.”

He continued: “We rely on these workers to ensure that age-restricted products are kept out of the hands of children, and the legislation requires that they challenge those under 25, and are held liable if they don’t. Those challenges and refusal of sale can act as a trigger point for abuse or violence on workers.

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“If workers are required to implement the law then they should have the protection of the law.”

Scottish Retail Consortium head of policy, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, welcomed the proposed legislation, adding: “Violence against and abuse of retail workers is never acceptable. It’s a crime against both those workers and the community they work in, and it’s right we explore all avenues which can reduce the severity and frequency of these crimes.

“Our analysis shows a concerning rise in the number of these incidents, and more needs to be done to deter and prevent this abuse. Mr Johnson’s consultation provides a welcome opportunity to revisit the legislative framework, and we will continue to work with him and others on the right way to deal with these often terrifying incidents.”

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema added: “Increasingly retailers are being asked to implement legislation within their stores, particularly around age verification. It’s when they try to do this that they suffer from physical and verbal abuse. This new legislation will send out the strongest possible signal that this behaviour is unacceptable and will act as a real deterrent.”