Tesco workers offered body cameras as violent attacks against employees soar

Tesco’s boss is calling for changes to the laws as company says more than 200 of its employees are victims of serious physical assaults each month

Stuti Mishra
Sunday 03 September 2023 07:42 BST
Man armed with knife lunges at Tesco staff before using bike to smash barricaded door

The UK’s largest retailer Tesco is offering its staff body cameras to protect them from rising cases of serious physical assault.

The company’s chief executive Ken Murphy called for changes to the law to tackle the worsening situation, saying numbers of assaults on its workers had risen by a third in a year.

Mr Murphy write in the Mail on Sunday that a law should be introduced to make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence in its own right across the UK.

He revealed that more than 200 Tesco employees are victims of serious physical assaults each month, prompting the company to spend £44m in new security measures.

“We’re doing our bit at Tesco – investing £44 million over the last four years on security measures such as door access systems, protection screens and digital radios,” Mr Murphy said.

“We’ve also rolled out body-worn cameras for colleagues that need them in order to deter offenders.”

“Money spent on making sure people are safe at work is always well spent,” he said.

Tesco’s decision to offer staff body cameras follows similar measures taken by other supermarket chains including Waitrose and Co-op. Sainsbury’s said it was rolling out body cameras in a small number of stores back in February 2020.

The figures quoted by Mr Murphy mirror similar statistics issued by the British Retail Consortium. Its annual Crime Survey, published in March, recorded 850 daily incidents across the UK in 2021/22, up sharply from 450 a day in 2019/20.

The Tesco boss wrote that “it should not have to be like this”. “Crime is a scourge on society and an insult to shoppers and retail workers,” he said. “These people are small in number but have a disproportionate impact.”

Mr Murphy called such incidents “unacceptable” and the impact on workers “heartbreaking” as he called for the government to “put an end to it”.

“I want those who break the law in our stores brought to book,” he said.

“After a long campaign by retailers and the union Usdaw, last year the government made attacking shop workers an aggravating factor in convictions – meaning offenders should get longer sentences.”

“Judges should make use of this power. But we need to go further, as in Scotland, and make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence in itself.”

He also called for better links with police forces and for businesses to be given a right to know how a case is proceeding when someone commits a crime in one of their stores.

“This would help us to spot patterns and provide reassurance that justice is being done,” he said.

“Gangs take advantage of the fact we do not share enough information. We’ll only be able to stop these thugs if we work together.”

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