Shop staff working in the retail sector were the victims of almost 36,000 violent incidents or abuse last year - equivalent to 38 incidents per 1,000 employees - according to a survey conducted on behalf of the British Retail Consortium.
In total throughout 2013, the BRC survey found there were 25,000 instances of abusive or aggressive behaviour towards staff and more than 11,000 incidents of violence.
As a result of the level of verbal or physical acts towards shop staff, the BRC has today published new guidelines to help retailers improve staff protection.
Entitled Tackling Violence Against Staff, the guidelines cover conflict management training and suggest procedures for when an incident occurs.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Our guidelines are designed to help businesses of all sizes share and understand best practice in preventing staff from being attacked or abused.
“Beyond what retailers can themselves do, it is important that the police and criminal justice system respond effectively to those who are violent or threatening towards people who work in retail. They should be dealt with in exactly the same way as someone who commits such a crime on the street.”
Crime prevention minister Norman Baker, who co-chairs the National Retail Crime Steering Group, gave government backing to the guidelines, saying he hoped they would “help retailers better protect themselves and their staff and educate shop workers in how to diffuse potential flashpoints.”
“We also hope this guidance will improve crime reporting rates which we know are under reported,” Baker added.
“We will not tolerate violence towards shop workers, and have been very clear that the courts can take into account violence against those serving the public as an aggravating factor in considering the appropriate sentence.”