A new report has shown that tens of thousands of retail staff are being subject to assault, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse.

The data from employers’ group, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), as part of its annual Retail Crime Survey, shows that the number of incidents of crime increased across all categories except violence against staff and robbery.

Figures suggest that in total, crime cost the sector £1.6bn, however it says that ‘dramatically fewer incidents are being reported to the police.’

Usdaw General Secretary, John Hannett, said:

“While we welcome the reduction in the number of incidents of violence against staff, 2012 still saw more than 28,700 retail workers attacked, threatened or verbally abused during the year ­– totally unacceptable. Every worker deserves to be treated with respect and should not have to put up with aggressive and abusive behaviour.

“We agree with the BRC that there is also a massive problem of under-reporting in the sector. It’s clear that both employees and employers feel the police are not treating retail crime as seriously as they should be. So it’s vital that we restore confidence in the police when dealing with retail crime. Our own figures show incidents of verbal abuse and threatening behaviour are still all too commonplace. We also know shoplifting is often a flashpoint and the most common trigger for violence against staff.”

He added:

“To add insult to injury the Coalition has recently rushed through changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) which will see shopworkers who are innocent victims of violent crime receive little or no compensation for their injuries and trauma. In addition the Coalition has also cut police numbers significantly which we believe further exposes vulnerable staff.

“We will continue to work with employers, the police –particularly the new Police & Crime Commissioners, and local authorities, as part of our Freedom From Fear campaign, to minimise risks, encourage reporting of all incidents and ensure staff are fully protected. Retail crime is not a victimless crime and abuse is definitely not part of the job.”