New UK Law to Combat Retail Violence

In a landmark move, the UK government has announced a separate criminal offence for assaulting retail workers, following a persistent campaign by industry groups and politicians. The decision, revealed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on April 9th, 2024, marks a significant shift in the government’s stance, as they had previously called such legislation unnecessary and ineffective.


The new offence, set to be incorporated into the government’s Criminal Justice Bill, will carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison or an unlimited fine, mirroring the existing punishment for common assault. Furthermore, repeat offenders and persistent shoplifters may be required to wear electronic tags as part of the measures.


Commenting on the announcement, Troy Hewitt, CEO of Assist Security Group (ASG), said, “This is a pivotal step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of retail workers across the UK. At ASG, we have witnessed first-hand the escalating violence and abuse faced by these essential workers, and we applaud the government’s decision to take decisive action.”


The government also plans to explore community sentencing options in collaboration with a yet-to-be-selected police force, aiming to tackle the rising incidence of shoplifting. Additionally, facial recognition technology will be increasingly used to identify individuals wanted by the police in crowded areas.


The call for a distinct offence has been driven by a long-running campaign led by major retailers and Conservative MP Matt Vickers, fueled by the growing violence against retail staff. In the past six months alone, a petition supporting the creation of this offence has gathered over 47,000 signatures.


Despite the government’s initial response in October, asserting that further legislative changes were unnecessary, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a staggering 50% increase in violent and abusive incidents against shopworkers between 2021/22 and 2022/23.


Helen Dickinson, chairwoman of the BRC, commended the announcement, emphasising that the concerns of the three million people working in the retail sector are finally being heard. She stressed the escalating impact of retail violence, with individuals facing various forms of abuse, harassment, and assault, often linked to organised crime.


Troy Hewitt added, “As a provider of bespoke security, ASG is committed to working closely with retailers to mitigate risks and ensure the safety of their staff and customers. Our tailored approach, combined with cutting-edge technology and expert personnel, enables us to deliver effective security measures that address the unique challenges faced by the retail industry.”


ASG offers a range of services designed to support retailers in combating violence and crime, including:


Luxury retail security: Providing discreet, professional security personnel to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for high-end retail establishments.

Corporate security: Offering comprehensive risk assessments, access control, and CCTV monitoring to protect retail headquarters and offices.

– Event security: Ensuring the safety and smooth operation of retail events, product launches, and promotions.

Hospital security: Securing retail outlets within hospital premises, ensuring a safe environment for staff, patients, and visitors.

Hotel security: Protecting retail spaces within luxury hotels, maintaining a secure and enjoyable experience for guests and staff.

Tourist attraction security: Safeguarding retail areas within popular tourist destinations, ensuring visitor safety and enjoyment.

You may be reviewing your security plans, looking to resolve a specific issue or just want to know what’s new. ASG’s interactive Coffee & Catch-Up is an opportunity to find out about the options and opportunities for the safety and security of your business this year – Email: or call 0208 543 6670

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