Central England Co-op reveals rise in threats and abuse aimed at staff during lockdown
Central England Co-op has seen a rise in threats and abuse being carried out against its staff during the coronavirus crisis.
Problems include verbal abuse and threats, as well as people threatening to cough and spit on staff working in the retailer’s stores.
Figures for the past four weeks have seen incidents of verbal abuse jump from 11 per week to 24, which in some cases is over four times higher than the same period last year.
Operating 260 food stores and petrol stations, the retailer has been forced to reiterate a plea for its teams to be treated with “care, compassion and respect”.
Incidents have taken place across the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Central England Co-op chief executive Debbie Robinson said: “Throughout these uncertain times our colleagues have been and continue to do everything they can to ensure our community stores have enough food and essential items for everyone.
“For anyone who does not support us, we will continue to work closely with local police forces to showcase that we have a zero-tolerance approach to any violent or threatening behaviour towards our colleagues.
“I am a strong campaigner for shop workers to be treated as public servants in the eyes of the law, in cases where they suffer violence or risk from the public. I would hope their status in society will now be permanently elevated and I am redoubling my efforts in lobbying for a change in sentencing law to ensure those who choose to attack our colleagues are held accountable for their actions on the same level as other frontline workers.”
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