Co-op reinforces zero tolerance message after shoplifter punches shopworker

Central England Co-op has reaffirmed its message that violence and aggression towards staff will ‘not be tolerated’ after a colleague was assaulted by a shoplifter during an incident in Birmingham.

The unacceptable incident took place on Friday, 11 March and saw a male shoplifter punch a member of the team at the Central England Co-op in Pershore Road, Cotteridge before fleeing from the store, and scattering stock in their wake.

The colleague was thankfully not seriously injured but understandably was extremely shaken by the ordeal and is being supported. The retailer is helping police with their investigation.

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said, “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this terrible incident at our Cotteridge store where our colleague was assaulted while they were just trying to do their job serving their local community.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues and are offering our full support to the entire team at our Cotteridge store. We’re working closely with the local police force to bring the criminal responsible to justice.

“These types of incidents reinforce our ongoing campaign calling for better protection for shopworkers and highlights our zero tolerance policy on all types of crime aimed at our colleagues and customers.

“Once again, we’re sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it’s not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”

Recent figures from Central England Co-op showed that nearly 12,000 incidents have been reported over the last year including 81 assaults, 959 cases of verbal abuse and threats, 307 anti-social behaviour reports and 160 direct incidents related to Covid-19.

This means, compared to last year, the total number of incidents have jumped by 26.1%, with rises in verbal abuse, threats and anti-social behaviour.

Central England Co-op has rolled out a range of different measures in recent months including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

It announced the roll out of colleague body cameras to over 50 stores last year following a successful trial designed to keep staff safe and help drive down crime in stores.
This comes after the retailer welcomed the news that an amendment has now been tabled by the Home Office to make an attack on shopworkers an aggravated offence after years of campaigning.

The group, along with partners across the co-operative movement, and fellow retailers and trade unions, have been campaigning for better protection for colleagues with incidents of violence against shopworkers rising sharply in recent years.