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It follows extensive lobbying by the FWD

Government has extended the new legislation that will make assaulting a retail worker a standalone criminal offence to cash & carry staff, marking a “huge win” for the wholesale sector.

Under the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, the scope of the legislation now protects those working in a “premises used mainly for the purposes of the wholesale of anything”, thanks to the extended definition of a retail worker.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is seeking confirmation that lorry drivers are in the scope as well.

Lyndsey Cambridge, head of engagement and crime lead at the FWD, has welcomed the inclusion of wholesale workers, after the trade body’s extensive lobbying and consultation to help prevent soaring levels of violent and organised crime against the sector.

Last month, Cambridge gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee to explain cash & carry depots and lorries in transit stocking high-value goods were being increasingly targeted, despite wholesalers tripling their security budgets since 2021.

Typically, incidents of theft, including ram raids, across the country could range up to £30,000 in value. However, there was one particularly “catastrophic” case involving £500,000 worth of goods, according to the trade body.

With wholesale workers now also protected under the pending legislation, which is hoped to receive royal assent this summer, the FWD said it will help to prevent crime from “moving from one place in society to another”.

“This is a huge win for the sector,” said Cambridge. “The inclusion of wholesale within the retail worker definition was vital in order to prevent a displacement of crime moving from the high street and into industrial estates, as offenders realise these workers fall out of scope of the new standalone retail worker offence.

“This legislation will protect those working for a wholesaler in a cash and carry setting. The wording of the amendment also states that retail premises includes a ‘vehicle’.

“We are seeking clarification that this clause indicates that delivery drivers are also in scope.”