Terrifying hammer attack sees shop owner back new law to protect staff
- Credit: Denise Bradley/Imran Mohammed
The owner of a business who saw his own brother attacked by a hammer wielding customer has backed calls for a new criminal offence to protect shop workers.
Retail trade union Usdaw said nine out of 10 retail workers have been verbally abused in the last 12 months and one in 10 have been physically attacked.
It has urged the prime minister to include specific tougher sentencing for shop assaults in the government’s flagship new crime bill.
Imran Mohammed, the owner of Mobile Clinic on Orford Place in Norwich, said the impact on staff could be long lasting.
His brother Aman has still not been able to return to work full time after he was punched in the face and attacked with a hammer after he told a customer they could not return a phone.
“When he did come back it was a nightmare because he was scared of every customer,” he said.
“People don’t understand the impact it has on people.”
Mr Mohammed backed calls for a dedicated offence similar to those that protect frontline NHS workers. “There should be a very harsh punishment. No one has a right to treat shop workers like this,” he said.
Other examples of abuse in the region include a teenage shop worker in Thetford who was left with a broken nose and serious concussion after he confronted a man who attempted to steal a bottle of alcohol.
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The problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Central England Co-op, which has a number of stores in Norfolk and Suffolk, said 300 crimes related directly to Covid have been recorded in stores since the start of the pandemic.
Incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167pc, anti-social behaviour by 39pc, assaults by 35pc and threats by 16pc in 12 months.
Earlier this year the influential cross-party House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee recommended a new criminal offence to protect shop workers after hearing harrowing accounts of the violence, threats and abuse.
But the government has indicated that it believes current laws on assault and violence provide sufficient legal protection.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “We remain disappointed and frustrated that the government has still not committed to a simple stand-alone offence for assaulting a retail worker, to encourage prosecutions and provide the deterrent effect that our members are desperately looking for.”