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UK To Make Assault On Shopworkers A Criminal Offence 

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The UK government has declared plans to make assaulting shopworkers a criminal offence in England and Wales.

It marks a major stride in combating the rise in retail crime exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. 

This move comes in response to a 50 percent increase in violent incidents and abuse towards retail staff last year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “sending a message” to criminals stealing and that stores “must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse.”

The new legislation will be incorporated into the ongoing Criminal Justice Bill under parliamentary review.

“The voices of the three million people working in retail have finally been heard"

The government has committed £55 million to deploy facial recognition technology over the next four years. 

This investment aims to bolster efforts to apprehend criminals and deter shoplifting activities. 

This funding includes £4 million allocated for mobile units equipped with live facial recognition technology. 

These units will be operational in busy high streets nationwide to spot and capture repeat offenders.

The British Retail Consortium CEO, Helen Dickinson, praised the announcement and said, “The voices of the three million people working in retail have finally been heard."

“This announcement sends a clear message that this abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. 

“It will improve the police response, which has historically been poor, as police will now have the necessary data to understand the scale of the problem and allocate sufficient resource to address this issue.

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Co-op director of public affairs and campaigning Paul Gerrard added: “Co-op sees every day the violence and threats our colleagues, like all retail workers, face as they serve the communities they live in.

“We have long called for a standalone offence of attacking or abusing a shopworker and so we very much welcome the Government’s announcement today.

“Co-op will re-double its work with police forces but these measures will undoubtedly, when implemented, keep our shopworkers safer, protect the shops they work in and, help the communities they serve.”

Co-op has allocated over £200 million to enhance staff and store security through body-worn cameras, dummy packaging, and reinforced kiosks.

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