The campaign is being launched by some of the UK’s biggest retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers, and it urges the public to be mindful of shopworkers’ essential role in supporting people during these difficult times, and emphasises that everyone should treat workers and also other customers with respect, kindness and gratitude.
It will be visible across high streets and social media from today (Monday, April 19).
Lincolnshire Police said the campaign is an opportunity to remind the public of what a key role retailers have played in keeping society open.
The national Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 Crime Report, published last month, shows that over the past year there have been more than 1.2million incidents of verbal abuse, and around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores.
Of these, more than a quarter involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe, or syringe.
Two-thirds of retailers (65%) had experienced Covid-related threats, with the most common causes of abuse being: reminding customers to wear face coverings, reminding customers of social distancing measures and queueing outside stores.
Lincolnshire Police were called to 195 incidents in shops and stores where threats were made towards staff, or staff were verbally abused or assaulted between March 2020 and November 2020.
Superintendent Lee Pache said: “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their place of work, and abuse towards shopworkers is unacceptable – we will not tolerate it.
“During the Covid pandemic, we’ve worked closely with shops around changes to the legislation and to help support them in dealing with prolific offenders.
“Some of the incidents we have been called to during lockdown related directly to Covid, where individuals had coughed on or spat at shop workers, or became threatening if they were challenged around not wearing a mask or not social distancing.
“Other incidents unrelated to the pandemic included people becoming violent when detained or challenged about shoplifting, or entering a shop they were barred from.
“These threats sometimes led to actual violence or were threats to kill or threats with weapons including dirty needles.
“This #shopkind campaign is a great opportunity to provide a timely reminder that our shopworkers are a vital part of our society, and have played a key role in keeping us going throughout lockdown.
“They will be dealing with their own stresses, both personally and professionally, and we all need to remember to treat them with the respect they deserve.”
The campaign is backed by the Home Office and supported by major high street names like Tesco and Boots, as well as the nation’s independent shopkeepers, and the shopworkers Union Usdaw.