§ Helen Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had on protecting shopworkers from violence; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Ms Blears [holding answer 12 February 2004]
Any form of violence is totally unacceptable and must be dealt with accordingly. I fully understand the detrimental and damaging effect that crime against business has on the community
My right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary attended the "National Respect for Shop Workers Day" organised by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers' (USDAW) in September. The key aims were to demonstrate to the public that the Government, the retail industry and the retail trade union are campaigning together to tackle crime. The Government welcome the work USDAW has undertaken through its Freedom From Fear campaign to raise awareness of violence against shopworkers. The Government are tackling this issue, for example by:Providing funding for training seminars for small retailers as part of the 15 million Small Retailers in Deprived Areas Scheme.Holding a Business Crime forum for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME's) which was well represented by retailers.
£ million Programme Original budget
Not spent in
C/F to 2003–04 Budgeted for
Coalfields 15 0 0 22 Community Chest 14.98 0.6 1— 25 European Regional Development Fund Areas 210.1 25.2 25.2 2230.5 Liveability Fund 0 0 0 7
Encouraging employers to manage work-related violence in the same way as any health and safety issue. The Health and Safety Executive has published general guidance to help employers tackle work-related violence, including specific guidance for the retail sector. This can be accessed via their website www.hse.gov.uk.
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) can also be used to protect shopworkers from violence. The orders can prohibit persons entering specified areas such as shopping centres, or prohibit persons engaging in specified anti-social acts eg shoplifting, verbally abusing shopworkers, writing graffiti on a shop, or prohibit persons approaching specified persons. Breach of an ABSO is a criminal offence attracting a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
The number of people experiencing violence at work has actually fallen by 27 per cent. since 1999 according to the most recent British Crime Survey published on 27 January 2004.