I support this amendment and believe it is unacceptable for shop workers to suffer abuse and threatening behaviour at work.
I pay tribute to research carried out by Usdaw which shows the number of shop workers encountering abuse and assaults has increased. Indeed, around 265 are assaulted every day.
I agree that the growth in such behaviour against staff is deeply concerning. Shop workers in our area and across the country should be treated with respect and allowed to work without fear of intimidation.
As you will be aware, the Offensive Weapons Bill aims to strengthen enforcement measures primarily on the sale and possession of acid and knives to reduce their availability. Clause 1 of the Bill would make it an offence for a person to sell a corrosive product to a person who is under the age of 18. While I support the limited enforcement measures contained within the Bill I would like to see it strengthened and improved.
When it comes to refusing to sell to individuals, it is shop staff who may be attacked or threatened as a result. The British Retail Consortium has highlighted that threatening behaviour can often arise from shop workers dealing with age-related products and having to ask somebody for identification.
When the Bill was first debated in the House of Commons the Home Secretary was tackled on this issue and promised to consider changing the Bill.
New Clause 1 would make it a specific offence for a buyer to intentionally obstruct a shop worker enforcing this law. Acting in a threatening manner towards a shop worker is included within this definition.
I am pleased that the issue was discussed during the Bill’s Committee Stage. I hope there can be a cross-party approach to this amendment, and that the concerns USDAW has raised will be listened to by the Government as the Bill progresses.
Derek Twigg MP