The UK’s biggest newsagent chain has been fined £5,000 and asked to pay £5,000 in costs after it pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Martin McColl, which operates 1,250 stores across the country, was charged for failing to safeguard the safety and health of its staff at its store in Willow Square, Winsford.

The store in Winford was regularly a target of robbery, an was robbed in broad daylight in November 2008 leaving Branch Manager Christine Rowe in hospital for face and eye treatment after being knocked unconscious. Following the robbery, an investigation was launched by the Cheshire West and Chester‘s Regulatory Services.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Enforcement Team found that Martin McColl had failed to conduct a proper risk assessment to protect staff against aggression and violence. It concluded that the risk levels were foreseeable. The shop had been targeted many times before in which tills were confiscated and there were a number of problems reported.

Prosecutor for the Council Ian Moore said the prior to this robbery, the shop had been robbed on a previous occasion, but the company had neglected to assess the risks associated with the Wisnford shop, which he contended before the court, was a result of management failure.

Following the incident, McColl has undertaken a risk assessment and brought in security measures to protect employees from such violent incidents.

Executive Member for Community and Environment Councillor Lynn Riley said that this was the first prosecution of its kind and that it was unacceptable for a company to expose it staff to aggressive and violent attacks.