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Source: The Federation of Independent Retailers

Shadow minister for policing Alex Norris spoke at the trade body’s annual conference this week 

A Labour government would bring back proposals for a standalone offence for attacking shopworkers, shadow minister for policing Alex Norris has vowed.

Norris’ pledge follows a setback for the retail sector when parliament was dissolved ahead of the forthcoming general election in May, which consequently saw Tory ministers drop the Criminal Justice Bill that would have created such an offence.

A new bill means the parliamentary process before it becomes law will have to start from scratch, further delaying shopworkers in gaining such protections, despite soaring levels of violence and abuse they are facing.

Speaking at the Federation of Independent Retailers’ annual conference in Birmingham this week, Norris said: “We were just weeks away from establishing the standalone offence, but I believe that in the near future we will achieve that change.

“People ask ‘why should there be a standalone offence for retail workers, and why not bus drivers or council workers?’

“The difference is, you as retailers are asked by the government to enforce the law on things like alcohol sales, which are potential flashpoints for verbal or physical confrontations, and I believe we have a responsibility to have your backs for those moments.”

Norris also stressed that, if Labour was elected, he would also make it a priority to scrap the so-called £200 rule, whereby some police forces do not pursue cases where theft is valued below £200.

These accusations have come about since changes to the law in the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Prevention Act 2014, which allowed anyone stealing goods costing less than £200 to plead guilty by post, or face a magistrate’s court.

“There is no acceptable level of value when it comes to crime,” he added.