Lockdown easing: 'Shop abuse will not be tolerated'

James Coomber of McColls with Acting Sergeant Mike Lee of the Business Crime Team in Essex Police

James Coomber of McColls with Acting Sergeant Mike Lee of the Business Crime Team for Essex Police - Credit: Essex Police

Essex Police has launched the Open for Business, Closed for Crime campaign, to work with the retail and hospitality sectors as coronavirus restrictions loosen.

The force's Business Crime Team is working with shops, businesses, pubs, cafes and restaurants to help them to protect staff from violence or abuse, and to provide crime prevention guidance.

Supt Michelle Davies said: “Our position is clear. We have a zero tolerance of abuse or violence towards retail workers.

"Nationally, since the start of the pandemic last year, the average retail worker has been assaulted, threatened or abused every 6.5 days, more than double the rate of incidents compared to 2019. This is unacceptable.

“We want to encourage any retail worker subjected to abuse or violence to report it to us through 999, if it is an emergency, online at www.essex.police.uk or on 101.”

Acting Sergeant Mike Lee of the Business Crime Team said: “We are aware retail staff have been suffering violence and abuse, which is unacceptable at any time but especially during the pandemic when so many of them have been serving us throughout.

“Through Open for Business Closed for Crime, we are working with businesses, encouraging them to report incidents to us.

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"And, if you are a retail worker who is assaulted or abused by a customer whilst at work, please also report it.

“It’s going to be busy for retail now so it’s a good time for us all to give a clear message to potential offenders that assaults on and abuse of public-facing staff will not be tolerated.”

Essex Police said that by giving business-owners and staff the confidence to report incidents, police can build a true picture of the problem and work with businesses to prevent issues.

Police are warning that though lockdown rules are easing, there are still rules in place and it is important we all continue to follow them, for our own safety and that of others.

Police officers will be visible in local communities. As they have done throughout the pandemic, they will take action if they spot clear and blatant breaches of Covid regulations.