A campaign to raise awareness and stop abuse of shop staff has been launched after parliament backed laws strengthening protection for retail workers.
A Bill introduced by Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson was passed in January amid reports of rising numbers of workers being attacked during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish Government has now launched an awareness campaign with testimony from retail staff about the damaging impact of this criminal behaviour.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Mr Johnson said: “This is a welcome development and one that I had discussed with Scottish Government Ministers during the progress of my Members Bill.
“The public has to be made aware that assaulting or abusing a retail worker is completely unacceptable, something the campaign will outline, but we have to go further.”
The Edinburgh Southern MSP added: “As well as raising awareness, the Scottish Government has to ensure that any crimes are properly investigated and prosecuted, with both Police Scotland and the Crown Office adopting policies to make sure this happens, given the concern expressed by the retail industry about enforcement.
“There can be no more excuses for abusing retail workers.”
The campaign, backed by £50,000 of Scottish Government funding, is being delivered by Crimestoppers, its youth programme Fearless, and the Scottish Grocers Federation.
Community safety minister, Ash Denham, said: “Shop workers play a crucial role in our communities and their outstanding dedication and sacrifice throughout the coronavirus pandemic has only emphasised this.
“While overall violent crime is much lower than a decade ago, the Scottish Grocers Federation crime survey last year indicated an increase in verbal or physical abuse in 2020 among the sector.
“Such appalling behaviour is completely unacceptable and no one should have to experience it while doing their job. Like everyone else, shop workers are fully entitled to be able to work free from the threat of violence or abuse.
“Our awareness campaign encourages everyone to be respectful and think about how they interact with shop workers.
“For any shop worker who experiences this type of criminal behaviour, we ask that they report it immediately to the Police or anonymously through CrimeStoppers or Fearless.org”
Dr John Lee of the Scottish Grocers Federation said: “The launch of this retail crime campaign is a major step forward in making our shops safer for retailers and customers.
“Shop staff should not have to put up with any form of abuse or threatening behaviour and we are calling on all our colleagues across the industry to report every incidence of retail crime.”
Angela Parker of CrimeStoppers said: “Violence and aggression towards shop staff can often leave people traumatised with vital, local shops at risk of closing.
“We would encourage communities to speak up to our charity 100% anonymously if they know or suspect who is responsible.”
Stewart Forrest, the Scottish officer for trade union Usdaw, added: “Retail staff have been on the front line throughout the coronavirus crisis, helping to keep our communities fed, despite the risks of contracting the virus.
“We owe them a debt of gratitude and abuse should never be a part of their job.
“The final results of our 2020 survey show that nine in 10 shopworkers had been abused last year so we very much welcomed the ground-breaking legislation to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse, passed by the Scottish Parliament last month.
“Crucial to the new law having the desired impact is criminals understanding that assaulting and abusing shopworkers is totally unacceptable. So we welcome the opportunity to work with Crimestoppers Scotland, the Scottish Government, police and retailers to promote that message.
“Our hope is that this new legislation will result in retail staff getting the protection and respect they deserve.”