- Tesco joins Co-op and Waitrose in offering staff cameras to deter attackers
- Bosses call for new laws as attacks on supermarket staff rise by a third in a year
- READ MORE: We cannot go on like this, writes Tesco boss KEN MURPHY
Every frontline Tesco store worker is to be offered a body camera following a shocking increase in violent attacks on staff.
More than 200 of the supermarket’s employees are victims of serious physical assaults each month amid an epidemic of lawlessness and anti-social behaviour blighting the high streets of ‘Broken Britain’.
Tesco boss Ken Murphy described the impact on staff as heartbreaking, calling the assaults ‘an insult to shoppers and retail workers’.
Writing in The Mail on Sunday, the chief executive called for changes to the law and policing. Officers currently fail to attend more than two-thirds of serious retail crimes, even though shoplifting costs businesses almost £1 billion a year.
Mr Murphy’s comments come as a major poll by former Tory Party deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, exclusively reported in today’s Mail on Sunday, shows that 72 per cent of voters think Britain is ‘broken’.
An attack by Josh James at a Tesco store in Bristol in October 2022 saw him swinging a knife at helpless employees
A reported altercation at a Tesco in Aston, Birmingham in January 2022 saw a Tesco worker punched in the face as security staff grappled with alleged shoplifters
Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy says tougher laws are needed to deter people from attacking supermarket workers
Every frontline Tesco colleague will be given the option of a body-worn camera (file picture)
The Tesco chief’s pledge to give body cameras to any public-facing employee who wants one follows similar moves by the Co-op and Waitrose owner the John Lewis Partnership.
Physical attacks on staff at Tesco – which employs around 300,000 people in 2,800 UK stores – are up a third on last year’s levels.
Thefts across the sector have doubled in the last six years, costing stores more than £950 million in 2022. The British Retail Consortium says police rarely turn up when incidents are reported.
Although Home Secretary Suella Braverman last month demanded that police pursue all reasonable crime leads, law enforcement chiefs said they did not have the resources to pursue ‘minor’ incidents.
Mr Murphy welcomed a previous move by Ministers that should mean anyone convicted of assaulting a shop worker gets a harsher sentence and called on judges to make use of their new powers.
He also wants the rest of the UK to adopt the system in Scotland, where abuse or violence towards shop staff is a specific offence. He believes this would act as a deterrent and reduce assaults.
Attacks on shop workers rose sharply during the Covid pandemic when some customers vented their frustration on employees, and the problem has worsened since then.
A recent survey found episodes of violence and abuse against retail workers increased from 450 a day in 2019 to more than 850 a day last year.
Staff report being sworn at, subjected to racial or sexual insults, physically threatened, spat on and subjected to physical violence.
The Co-op logged almost 1,000 incidents a day of retail crime in the six months to June, an increase of 35 per cent on the same period in 2022 and its highest ever levels.
Tesco says attacks on its staff have risen by a third in the last year
The introduction of body-worn cameras in Tesco stores comes after similar moves in Co-op and Waitrose stores, in response to rising levels of violence against staff
It lodged a Freedom of Information request which revealed police do not respond to around 70 per cent of serious retail crime. The company says criminals are ransacking shops with impunity, with one London store looted three times in a single day.
Mr Murphy wants store owners to have a right to know how cases against suspects are proceeding. At present they may be kept in the dark as offences are logged as crimes against the worker not the business.
He added that criminal gangs take advantage of the fact information is not effectively shared, saying: ‘We’ll only be able to stop these thugs if we work together.’
The Co-op’s frontline staff now wear body cameras and headsets so they can call for help if attacked, part of a £200 million investment in security over recent years.
‘Retail crime is an ongoing challenge and we know it is driven by repeat and prolific offenders and organised local criminal gangs,’ said its food boss Matt Hood.
‘I have seen some horrific incidents of brazen and violent theft in our stores, where my store colleagues feel scared and threatened.
‘Too often, police forces fail to respond to desperate calls by our store teams, and criminals are operating without any fear of consequences.’
The John Lewis Partnership has also provided its staff with body cameras, with the firm’s head of security Nicki Juniper saying: ‘We’ve seen a rise in aggression. It’s completely unacceptable; nobody should be treated like that at work.’
Paddy Lillis, of the shop workers’ union Usdaw, called for better co-ordination to help protect his members.
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