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Government 'doing little about attacks on shop staff'

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Appeal: Aodhan Connolly

Appeal: Aodhan Connolly

Appeal: Aodhan Connolly

The Government is being urged to do more to stem a rising tide of violence and abuse against people who work in shops amid evidence that attacks are becoming more severe.

Approximately 424 incidents were reported every day in the year to last April, up by almost a tenth on the previous 12 months, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.

The increased use of weapons, especially knives, was described as a "worrying trend". However, shopworkers have also been attacked with syringes.

Retailers spent a record £1.2bn on crime prevention in one year, while their losses reached £1bn including over £770m from customer theft, said the BRC.

Politicians were accused of leaving retail workers to "fend for themselves".

A letter was sent to the Government last summer by leading retailers calling for action.

More than two-thirds of retailers believe the police response to incidents was poor, said the BRC.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said the Assembly must also take the problem seriously.

"This is a huge issue for retailers of all sizes and it has a human cost," he added.

"It affects the physical and mental health of those affected and has a knock-on effect to colleagues and communities.

"It is often the most economically vulnerable communities that are affected by this most."

Belfast Telegraph