Belfast Telegraph

83% of us would intervene if we witnessed retail staff being abused, study suggests

By David Reed

More than 40% of people in Northern Ireland say they have seen shop staff being abused.

The statistics, which cover the last three years, emerged after research by insurer NFU Mutual.

It found that 42% had witnessed some form of abuse towards retail staff, ranging from customers belittling or being patronising to employees, and swearing and shouting at them, to physical attacks.

The report also said 87% of people here expect retail staff to have the necessary training to effectively manage when confronted by a verbally or physically abusive customer.

Despite this, 45% of the UK businesses also surveyed said they are not actively taking any measures to protect their staff.

NFU Mutual commissioned the research after The British Retail Consortium's latest Retail Crime Survey identified a spike in violent attacks on store staff.

Frank Woods, retail specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "Employers' liability and public liability claims remain the highest cost to us as a commercial insurer and, unfortunately, while most is accidental damage, the sad fact is that some is down to threatening behaviour or even assault. It's not only the physical abuse that employees receive but also the emotional cost of everyday discourtesy."

Mr Woods said many retail staff in Northern Ireland are young people working in what is their first job, often for the minimum wage.

"These sorts of encounters can crush their enthusiasm to pursue a career in retail which is a particular threat while Brexit approaches and questions about recruiting talent remain unanswered," he added.

"No one deserves to be spoken to rudely or feel threatened at work, no matter their profession."

The report also found that 83% of people in Northern Ireland would either physically or verbally intervene if a member of staff was being attacked by another customer.

Belfast Telegraph

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