The Home Secretary on Tuesday (July 7) set out plans to crack down on abuse and violence against shopworkers.

The latest move is seen as a major step with community pharmacies facing widespread abuse during the current pandemic despite efforts of the governments and pharmacy bodies to tackle violence against pharmacists and their staff.

The steps, which are detailed in the Home Office’s call for evidence on the issue, are designed to improve support for victims and ensure perpetrators face justice.

They include working with the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) on a best practice guide to support staff in reporting these crimes, strengthening and making full use of existing laws, and improving data sharing between businesses and the police.

In addition, the Crime and Policing Minister will write to PCCs and chief constables underscoring the importance of working closely with local businesses to tackle this issue and emphasising that the theft of goods valued up to £200 from a shop should be prosecuted as a criminal offence.

Earlier, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association and other national pharmacy bodies had called for further steps with zero tolerance approach to end violence against pharmacists.

The Metropolitan Police had urged contactors not to divulge details as to when deliveries were expected and place temporary barriers on open plan counters to restrict access to ensure the safety of the pharmacists during Covid-19 pandemic.

In Scotland, police have urged pharmacy staff members to report all incidents of violence at their respective workplace.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “As the daughter of shopkeepers, I know what a vital role they play within our communities and just how tirelessly they have worked during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I will not tolerate violence and abuse against any shopworker and it’s right that those who commit these crimes must be caught and punished.”

Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Crime and Policing, said: “…Through the NRCSG, we are developing solutions which address concerns highlighted by the retail sector….The government is taking action to tackle violent crime of all types, including by recruiting 20,000 new police officers over the next three years.”

The call for evidence was open for 12 weeks when organisations and individuals were asked to contribute to the government’s understanding of the problem.

Responses were sought from retailers, trade associations and unions, as well as those working in the retail industry. Nearly 3,500 individuals, businesses and other organisations engaged in the process.

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