Henry Smith MP's decision not to vote for new bill that protects retail staff from abuse questioned by Crawley resident

A Crawley resident who has experienced retail violence has asked Henry Smith MP how he could vote against a new bill that protects retail staff from verbal and physical abuse.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 10:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 10:44 am

Paul Taylor-Burr, who works for the Co-op, has faced both forms of abuse whilst at his place of work.

On Saturday, July 4, executives at Tesco, Primark and Sainsbury’s wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking to amend policing laws.

Violence against retail workers has risen in recent years, according to retailers, but this has worsened during the pandemic as workers found themselves having to enforce rules such as mask-wearing by customers.

A Crawley resident who has experienced retail violence has asked Henry Smith MP how he could vote against a new bill that protects retail staff from verbal and physical abuse. Picture by Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament

Paul said: “I would like Mr Henry Smith to explain why he voted against protecting retail staff, by law, from verbal and physical abuse - from being spat at and coughed on, to being threatened with knives, needles, hammers, spanners, being punched and kicked.

“By not voting for this protection you have given the green light for shoplifters, thugs, and those who simply want to cause as much grief to others to act with impunity knowing that the colleague won't be able to do anything as the police are stretched to breaking point.

“We are a little bit luckier than most as Co-op has given staff body cameras to record abuse.

“We have a no chase policy, and we have HD CCTV and remote security to help colleagues feel a bit safer.

“I myself, whilst in a store in Langley Green, have been threatened to have my head smashed in with a claw hammer, and my throat cut.

“I've had, on two occasions, had shoplifters try to run me over as I noted their licence plate down. I've been shouted at screamed at and, I've had my family insulted and called names

“And although I'm out of the store and working for Co-op in a community capacity, my colleagues are still facing this kind of abuse every single day.”

In response, Henry Smith MP said: “I was one of the first signatories of the British Retail Consortium’s Shopworkers’ Pledge which calls for retail staff protection, I was also one of the main signatories of New Clause 90 to the Police, Crime, Courts & Sentencing Bill on July 5 to enshrine such protections in law.

“In the end there wasn’t a vote on this measure because myself and the other signatories got an assurance from the Justice Secretary that shopworkers protection would be added to the Bill at its next stage.

“There was also an opposition motion that purported to offer protections but unfortunately would fail to do so.

“I prefer to get on with ensuring shopworkers are genuinely protected in law, which is what will now happen, rather than playing political games with a serious issue.

“Retail workers in Crawley and across the country deserve that.”