Peter Head, joint owner of The Grocer Top 50 chain Anglian Convenience Stores, has condemned the current alcohol trading laws, branding them as useless after a female member of his staff was brutally assaulted in his Norfolk off-licence.
The woman was kicked in the stomach and suffered multiple head injuries after she refused to serve a drunk man.
Under the current law, retailers who serve under-age or excessively drunk customers face penalties of up to £1,000, and risk losing their licence.
However, Head is now taking the law into his own hands. He is advising his managers and staff to protect themselves by
serving all violent and threatening customers regardless of their age or state of inebriation.
“This is such a grey area of the law, and one that I am no longer prepared to abide by.
“The safety and wellbeing of my staff is paramount, and I will fight to protect them whatever the cost. I am prepared to go to court in order to argue my case,” he said.
Retail crime statistics from the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) appear to indicate that, on average, one convenience store shopworker is attacked or verbally assaulted every minute of the working day.
In 2004 alone there were around 134,800 acts of violence and 991,100 incidents of threatening behaviour, and the problem is growing.
Research by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) supports the findings, and the union launched its annual Respect For Shopworkers day on Wednesday.
“Just whose side is the law on?” asked Head. “My staff only get paid the minimum wage, that’s certainly not enough to risk their lives for.
“I am telling them to serve threatening customers, record it on the refusal sheet, and report the incident to the police immediately after. ”
Head is not alone in calling for a sharp shot of common sense to be injected into the arm of the law.
Kate Ison, a spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium, said: “The retailer is the victim, and it is ridiculous that they should be penalised for protecting themselves. They should not be placed in this intimidating and unfair position at all.”
Gaelle Walker