Central England Co-op reinforces zero tolerance crime campaign after colleagues abused and significant damage caused during violent incident

These shocking images show the aftermath of an incident which saw a Co-op customer violently trash a food store after verbally abusing staff just trying to do their job serving the community.

Central England Co-op has reaffirmed its campaign calling for better protection for colleagues after a member of staff was verbally abused by an aggressive customer at the Marsh Lane store in Erdington who then caused extensive damage inside the store before fleeing.

The retailer is reinforcing its message that violence and aggression towards staff will ‘not be tolerated’ following the incident which saw the male customer swear at a female colleague as they attempted to serve him.

After being asked to stop swearing and warned he would not be served if he continued, the male continued to swear and was therefore asked to leave as he would not be served.

After leaving the store, the male returned shortly after and proceeded to push over displays and pull down fixtures and stands before leaving the store laughing with a trail of destruction in his wake.

The police were called and colleagues are supporting them with their investigation.

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this unacceptable incident in Erdington.

“It is totally unacceptable for our colleagues to face abuse in any shape or form and we are offering full support to them and the entire team and working closely with the local police force to bring those responsible to justice.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues who are just doing their job and as the images highlight, the behaviour of the offender and the level of damage he caused to the store was extremely shocking for the team to witness.

“These types of incidents reinforce our ongoing campaign calling for better protection for shopworkers and highlights our zero tolerance policy on all types of crime aimed at our colleagues and customers.

“Once again, we are sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it is not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”

This comes after the retailer asked people to ‘be kind’ as part of a new campaign encouraging customers to treat shop colleagues with respect and to repeat the Co-op’s long-term message to would-be criminals that ‘it is not worth the risk’ to target them.

New research has shown that, in the last 12 months, incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167%, anti-social behaviour by 39%, assaults by 35% and threats by 16% compared to 2019.

The retailer also revealed that 312 crimes related directly to Covid-19 have been recorded in stores since the start of the pandemic.

Recently, to help combat this problem, the retailer rolled out a range of different measures including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

The retailer has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shopworkers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its 7,550 colleagues serve customers across over 400 trading sites in 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 

The Society’s purpose is to inspire communities to help create a ‘sustainable Society for all’, a strong and successful business that is invested in protecting the environment and the wellbeing of its colleagues, members, and customers.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

Email - publicrelations@centralengland.coop