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Notts Police welcomes new legislation to tackle violence against retail staff

Nottinghamshire Police has welcomed the announcement that assaulting a retail worker will be made a standalone criminal offence, which will further support the force’s ongoing work to tackle violence against shop staff.

The force’s support for the legislation follows a series of five successful events across Nottinghamshire as part of a county and city-wide operation aimed at targeting business crime and keeping retail staff safe from harm.

The new offence will carry a maximum sentence of six months and offenders could also receive an unlimited fine and be banned from returning to shops where they committed the offence.

Preventative methods including criminal behaviour orders will be used for prolific offenders and those found guilty of the most serious cases will face jail sentences.

In March, Nottinghamshire Police held Safer Business Actions Days in Nottingham city centre, West Bridgford, Mansfield, and across the north of the county in Bassetlaw and Newark and Sherwood as part of the National Business Crime Centre’s national month of action.

The events saw dozens of uniformed officers patrolling the streets, engaging with retailers to discuss pertinent issues and establishing solutions to shared concerns.

The action brought together charities, supermarkets, businesses and independent retailers to improve the areas for residents by tackling retail crime and anti-social behaviour.

Over the course of the targeted action, more than 190 retailers were visited and engaged with, involving 87 officers across the county.

As part of the force’s joint outreach work with councils, the NHS and substance misuse and homelessness charities, 70 disadvantaged people with complex needs were signposted to support services – which included a hygiene bank and free haircuts from a volunteer barber.

In total, 12 arrests and voluntary interviews were made, one offender was recalled to prison, and four section 35 dispersal orders were enforced.

Nottinghamshire Police is also supporting the national Shop Kind campaign, which is led by the Home Office to unite the retail sector, encourage positive behaviour on the high street, and acknowledge the important role of retail staff in our communities.

When officers attend reports of retail and business crime, they consider all offences as well as any steps they can take to support the staff affected, including increased patrols and regular engagement with shops.

Officers also work to refer offenders to rehabilitation for addiction and mental health support where appropriate.

The force is continuing to engage with businesses to identify their priorities and patterns around abuse and anti-social behaviour, which will influence proactive hotspot patrols as part of the ShopKind Campaign week between May 6 and 12.

Inspector Ollie Vale, Nottinghamshire Police’s lead for business and retail crime, said: "Last month the government announced that a standalone offence will be introduced for violence against retail staff.

“This is a welcome step in tackling retail crime nationally and in Nottinghamshire we wholeheartedly support this.

“This change will allow us to effectively monitor and address concerns in areas that are seeing higher levels of violence towards those who work in retail.

“My hope is this will support the understanding that people who work in retail should not be subject to violence and abuse and that retail crime is not victimless. It is not against corporations and businesses – instead, it affects real people who want to work to support their communities.

“Nottinghamshire Police is working hard with our partners in retail to make it a hostile environment for those who commit criminality in our stores and against retailers.

“In March we had a successful Safer Business Action month and the #ShopKind campaign is a brilliant tool in educating people about the effect their behaviours have on retailers."

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