Scotland's Protection of Workers Bill should help protect retail staff from endemic violence and abuse – Daniel Johnson MSP

This August will see my Protection of Workers Bill come into force and ensure that retail staff are properly protected from violence and abuse.
Attacks on shops staff are a serious problem in society (Picture: Michael Gillen)Attacks on shops staff are a serious problem in society (Picture: Michael Gillen)
Attacks on shops staff are a serious problem in society (Picture: Michael Gillen)

Just yesterday the Home Affairs Select Committee in Westminster stated that violence in our shops is endemic to British society and that the policing response is failing to match the scale of the problem.

It is calling for a similar criminal offence as that set out in my Bill to be introduced in England. The reason: to send a powerful message and to ensure these crimes are prosecuted with the seriousness required.

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I welcome this position from the Westminster committee and know from experience in my engagement with trade unions, shop workers and stakeholders that there is a serious problem here.

Police Scotland will be able to use the provisions of my Bill from August when dealing with issues but there are still further pressures ahead for the sector.

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We have to remember that as restrictions ease and more of us are vaccinated, there will still be rules in place, in order to ensure there are no more outbreaks.

A sector that will once again find itself on the front line will be shop workers. They were tasked with ensuring public health measures were followed at the beginning of the pandemic and it looks like that responsibility will still be there's as we find our “new normal”.

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We have to treat retail staff with the respect they deserve. In Scotland we will at least have the legal protections and policing powers to support them. I hope this is replicated across the rest of the UK.

Daniel Johnson is Scottish Labour & Co-op MSP for Edinburgh Southern

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