Grocery retailers and union leaders met MPs during National Respect for Shopworkers Day on Wednesday to urge them to help combat violence against shopkeepers.

Home secretary David Blunkett met Co-operative Group chief executive Martin Beaumont and Usdaw leaders Sir Bill Connor and John Hannett at the Welcome store in Camberwell, London.

Blunkett unveiled a plaque and signed a pledge urging zero tolerance of violence.

Victims of crime from retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury were present.

Participants including Morton Middleditch, Spar UK chairman and vice chair of the British Retail Consortium, then met prime minister Tony Blair and other MPs to press them to help protect shopworkers. Chief
executive of the Association of Convenience Stores David Rae said: “We believe Respect for Shopworkers day will highlight the plight of thousands of shopworkers.”

Beaumont said he wanted retail crime singled out in police performance targets and a national register of police response times to incidents. He also wanted trials to take greater account of offenders’ criminal records.

A study timed by the Co-operative Group to coincide with Respect Day claims convenience store staff suffered a 39% rise in violent attacks in the last year.
Rod Addy