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The proposal has been welcomed by trade bodies 

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has pledged to introduce a new law against attacking shopworkers amid the shoplifting scourge. 

In her speech during the Labour Party conference this morning, Cooper highlighted the issues facing retailers and shopworkers across the UK with theft and abuse, and the challenges they faced when it came to getting meaningful intervention from the police.

“We will stand with Usdaw, with the Co-op, with Tesco, with our convenience stores, with retailers and shopworkers across the country with a new law and tougher sentences for attacks on shopworkers because everyone has the right to feel safe at work,” she said.

The move was welcomed by the ACS, Usdaw, and the BRC, which have long lobbied against the rising tide of retail crime.

“Effective penalties are a vital part of tackling retail crime, and something we have long campaigned for,” said ACS CEO James Lowman. “To get to the point where courts are actually in a position to use these penalties, we need the police to investigate every incident and pursue those who abuse and intimidate shopworkers and retailers.”

In June last year, a law that makes attacking a shopworker an aggravated offence came into force. The provision, which carries tougher penalties for offenders, forms part of the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act.

It is not yet known what the new law Cooper is proposing would look like, and how it would differ to the existing legislation. The Grocer understands more details are expected when manifestos are published ahead of the election.

Cooper also committed in her speech to introducing 13,000 more neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs to patrol the streets and make people feel safer, as well as bringing in respect orders that would ban repeat offenders from town centres and the high street.

She also laid out plans to put an end to the idea that there is a £200 threshold for investigating incidents of shoplifting. It follows accusations that theft valued under the amount was not being pursued by the police.

Policing minister Chris Philp told The Telegraph last week that forces must investigate every single crime where there is CCTV evidence, including those of lower value.

“The law says that this is still a criminal offence and police should be enforcing it comprehensively,” he said.