New campaign launched to protect Eastbourne shopkeepers
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The new Christmas campaign launches today (December 1) to show the abuse shopkeepers have faced during the Covid pandemic.
The film features the stories of real people who have put themselves at risk working in essential shops in order to keep families fed and provide vital human interaction for so many people who have been alone at home for the majority of the year.
Sussex Police has said the message is to show some kindness to our festive frontline this Christmas because they don’t deserve the abuse they’ve suffered.
Katy Bourne, police and crime commissioner for Sussex, devised this campaign and says that ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to the abuse of shop workers. She wants to make sure we are all ‘keeping Christmas kind.’
Due to the change from lockdown to a tiered system of restrictions, high streets are expected to see huge last-minute shopping sprees and potential tensions forming as a result, according to police.
Police are concerned that those on our festive frontline could bear the brunt of some shoppers’ frustrations about wearing masks and distancing measures, leading to more abuse and assaults.
Ms Bourne said, “The rise in assaults and abuse against shop workers is getting out of hand.
“This pandemic has shown how important our local businesses and their staff are to our communities. Intimidation, verbal abuse and violence of any kind against our shop workers cannot be tolerated.
“I’m seriously concerned about the impact a Covid Christmas may have on our local stores. We have all had an incredibly challenging year but we cannot stand by and watch those who have helped keep our country going be abused in this way.”
She is asking people to share the ‘keeping Christmas kind’ message and encourage people to stop, take a step back and rethink their behaviour.
According to national retail trade union Usdaw, every minute of the working day during the pandemic a shop worker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked. As well as this, a recent survey with 100 Sussex business owners also showed that 53 per cent had experienced an increase in abuse against their staff during the pandemic.
Ms Bourne recently established the Safer Sussex Business Partnership to identify easier ways for businesses to report crime, increase victim support for shop workers and target prolific offenders.
Sussex Police say it is are now leading the way in developing new business crime initiatives. This includes the training of call handlers to identify which victims should be offered support and providing advice to businesses about how best to supply evidence to ensure a successful case can be brought against criminals.
Sussex Police’s business crime lead Chris Neilson said, “The assault and abuse of shop workers simply doing their job in our communities is a serious concern for Sussex Police and will not be tolerated. We will wherever possible take robust action against anyone targeting and intimidating retail staff.
“Sussex Police has invested in officers that are dedicated to investigating business crimes and provided recent training to contact handlers to recognise where violence and abuse has occurred so that we can act effectively and ensure a victim can access appropriate support.”
Anyone wanting to watch the full film can go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN_zMlaTSME