The visit, led by Rachael Maskell, took her to several stores in York, including Tang Hall Lane, East Parade, Paragon Street, Stonebow, and Clarence Street. There, she met with store management and staff to hear their concerns.
In November, the retail trade union USDAW reported alarming statistics. They found that 65% of shop staff had experienced verbal abuse, 42% had been threatened by a customer, and 5% had been physically assaulted in the past year. The Co-op reported a significant increase in incidents, with 1,000 incidents occurring every day in their 2,400 stores during 2023. This represented a 41% increase from the previous year. The Co-op also noted a 25% rise in physical attacks against staff and reported that 100 staff members were experiencing serious verbal abuse on a daily basis.
Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, expressed her deep concern over the violence and abuse faced by shop staff, emphasizing that it is unacceptable. She stressed the importance of law enforcement stepping in when needed and ensuring that offenders are pursued through the courts. Maskell also highlighted the need to address the root causes of these issues, emphasizing a public health approach to guide individuals towards better choices and alternative sources of income.
She went on to outline Labour’s plans to address shoplifting and retail crime, including creating a new specific offense of assault against retail workers and allocating more resources to community policing and PCSOs. She also highlighted the need to address the unsolved crime rate and the shortage of detectives in policing. Labour’s plan includes reversing the decision to downgrade the response to shoplifting under £200 and boosting city center police patrols. Additionally, she emphasized the importance of better funding for the police to enable them to carry out their duties effectively.
In conclusion, Maskell criticized the Tories’ handling of crime and pledged that Labour would reverse their failures to ensure that residents and retail workers feel safe in their communities.