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Politics & Law Series: Expert Comment

Rising violence against store workers during pandemic

Media advisory from Dr Emmeline Taylor, Reader in Criminology at City, University of London.

by City Press Office (General enquiries)

Dr Emmeline Taylor is a criminologist at City, University of London. In September 2019 she authored ”It is not part of the job.” Violence and verbal abuse towards shop workers.”

The report highlighted the devastating consequences of violence for shop workers who all too frequently were suffering life-changing injuries while just simply doing their job.

Abusive incidents double during pandemic

Dr Emmeline Taylor comments on Co-op’s campaign ‘Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities’ demanding for new laws to protect store workers against rising crime.

“Despite being recognised as ‘key workers’ who have been serving their communities during the Covid-19 crisis, shop workers have actually seen the levels of violence and verbal abuse directed at them rocket during the pandemic.

“As customers have become agitated by restrictions, queues and limits on stock, some have directed their frustrations at those working hard to serve their communities. The union USDAW reports that abusive incidents toward shop workers has doubled since the outbreak of the coronavirus. They report that each individual shop worker is, on average, assaulted, threatened or abused every 6.5 days.

“What’s more, there is evidence to suggest that a significant proportion of incidents are hate related (motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on their race or ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity).

“It is time to take action to protect such vital key workers and ensure that they can do their job without being fearful of abuse or physical assault.

“Such incidents are all too often dismissed as ‘business crimes’ and therefore somehow victimless, let’s not forget that behind each and every statistic is a person who has directly experienced violence or verbal abuse while simply doing their job.”


All quotes can be attributed to Dr Emmeline Taylor, Reader in Criminology at City, University of London.

For more information please contact the City press office.

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