MP gives his support to shopworkers caught up in violent incident at Erdington Co-op

A Birmingham MP has condemned a violent incident which saw a Central England Co-op food store trashed by an abusive customer and emphasised his support for the campaign for a zero tolerance approach to such abuse.

Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, spoke out 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 store team were left shaken after the male customer pushed over displays and pulled down fixtures and stands before leaving the store laughing with a trail of destruction in his wake, after he had been asked to leave for repeatedly swearing at a female shop assistant.

The parliamentarian praised the work of shopworkers, supported efforts for them to receive better protection and backed calls for the perpetrator to be brought to justice.

He said: “I utterly condemn this shameful act and my thoughts go out to the shopworkers subjected to this terrifying ordeal. No one should have to face such abuse while at work, not least those key workers who have gone above and beyond to keep food on the shelves during this period of national crisis.

"For many years, I have been a steadfast supporter of campaigns by retail employers and the shopworkers' trade union, Usdaw, for there to be a zero-tolerance approach to such abuse, with consequences for the perpetrators. This incident shows why such an approach is so necessary.

"I urge anyone with information about this incident to contact West Midlands Police."

This latest incident came 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.

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