It comes after over 7,000 cases have been reported under the Protection of Workers Act in Scotland

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation is calling for more transparency around prosecutions relating to retail crime.

Some 7,056 cases of abuse and assault against shopworkers have now been reported since the Protection of Workers Act came into force in August 2021.

While those reports span all retail sectors, SGF said the convenience sector was particularly vulnerable given the flashpoints triggered around restricted sales and theft, as well as the lower number of staff and security usually on site.

The act had made it easier for Police Scotland to assess trends in retail crime, look at problem areas for repeat offences, and identify perpetrators, according to the SGF. However, it is not publicly known whether they have been officially arrested and subsequently convicted.

It is now calling on the Scottish government, the Lord Advocate and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service for the figures on referrals and convictions relating to the act to be made public.

“Retail crime and shop theft is a very serious issue for convenience stores and our members,” said SGF CEO Pete Cheema. “People should not have to come to work knowing they will likely have to put up with threats, abuse and potentially violence.

“Reports of increased shoplifting are coming in from number of sources, alongside a rise in antisocial behaviour toward staff and within stores. It is not only staff wellbeing and businesses that are being impacted by these crimes, but families and the wider community.

“While we welcome the figures on the POW Act provided by Police Scotland, we really need to know how many of those cases are being brought to justice. That would encourage more retailers to report the crimes happening in-store, daily, and could be an effective way of making potential perpetrators think twice.”

The call comes as retailers across the UK have been ramping up their efforts to mitigate a surge of theft and acts of violence in stores.

The Co-op has extended a trial of ‘dummy display packaging’ across targeted products by criminals such as coffee and laundry gel. It means shoppers buying these items will have to take the dummy display case to the till, where it is exchanged for the actual product.

Meanwhile, Waitrose is to begin offering police officers free hot drinks and use of staff canteens as part of efforts to discourage theft in stores.