Co-op urges youngsters to take part in ‘Be Kind’ poster colouring campaign in effort to stop violent and aggressive incidents towards colleagues

Central England Co-op is asking youngsters to get creative during lockdown and produce special ‘Be Kind’ posters to help ongoing efforts to stop violent and aggressive incidents towards colleagues.

Parents will be able to pick up a special poster pack when they next visit a store that children will then be able to bring to life and either display in their front window in support of staff or give back to their local store to help create a powerful display.

This comes as part of ongoing efforts to encourage people 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.

Store Manager Jamie Joyce said: “Our Be Kind campaign is extremely important and highlights the need for all of us to work together to ensure colleagues are treated with kindness and respect as they work around the clock to provide food and essentials for our communities.

“We thought that by designing a special poster pack it would help us spread the message further as well as giving youngsters something fun and free to do during lockdown.”

Recently, to help combat this violence and aggression 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.

This security crackdown will be supported by several measures already in place in stores including:

  • centrally monitored CCTV system and increased use of security officers and store detectives
  • stringent cash controls
  • colleague training on how to deal with situations involving violence or aggression
  • working with offenders to help them beat their addiction and support their integration back into the community
  • A trial is also under way on body cameras for colleagues which, if successful, will be rolled out across all stores

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Our teams have gone above and beyond over the last 12 months to ensure our communities have access to vital food and essentials, only to be greeted with shocking incidents like those we have seen in recent months.

“We want to send a clear message to anyone who might be thinking of committing a crime at one of our stores - this behaviour will not be tolerated and targeting our stores is not worth the risk.

“We need everyone to be kind and treat our colleagues with care, compassion and respect as they work around the clock for our communities. We want people to think long and hard about the person wearing our uniform – they will be someone’s much loved family member.

“We want people to ask themselves whether they would like their relatives to be confronted by someone in a violent or aggressive way, especially at this uncertain time – the answer is no, and therefore why should anyone who works in retail have to deal with this kind of behaviour.

“Everyone at Central England Co-op is proud to live and work in our local communities – now we need people to work with us to make sure our stores and the people in them are safe for everyone.”




Notes to editors


Examples of shocking incidents included:

  • A customer in Shepshed threatening a colleague with a wrench after they were refused the sale of an energy drink
  • Several incidents in Leicester and Birmingham which saw people making threats, and in some cases, shop workers were slashed at with a knife during attempted incidents of shoplifting
  • In Chesterfield, a colleague was punched in the face after spotting a shoplifter stealing items from a store and, in Birmingham, another worker suffered a fractured hip after being attacked by a shoplifter
  • In one of the worst incidents, a colleague was verbally abused, physically attacked and robbed in the car park of a store in an unprovoked attack
  • Multiple threats by customers to cough on sales assistants and ‘give them Coronavirus’ and further threats of assault because people have had to queue to enter stores, social distance or simply because they do not have a specific product.



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. 


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