THE manager of a shop in CrownGate has backed calls to change laws to protect shop workers from attacks.

Monkee Business owner Antonia Henson said that while the vast majority of her customers were well behaved there had been a few incidences which had left staff shaken.

Covid-19 rules have brought extra pressure with a small number of customers verbally abusing staff when they or their children were asked to follow rules.

In one recent incident, the shopping centre's security staff were called when a woman re-entered the store and started being abusive after a previous clash with staff.

Independent retailers pressed MPs to support an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at a debate in the House of Commons.

MPs are being asked to back amendment NC31, which will give new and important legal protections to those working in the retail sector who are victims of verbal or physical abuse.

Ms Henson said: "The majority of our customers are very nice but recently we've had a few issues.

"We really only want people to touch items if they intend to buy them because of covid-19 but that's caused issues particularly with teenagers and parents.

"It does get to a point where it can get quite verbal.

"I think bringing in tougher laws is a good thing because people need to realise there is a line.

"Most people though are really reasonable and understand we are in lockdown and are patient."

The proposals in the amendment will give retailers in the rest of the UK the same kind of protection that has already been passed by the Scottish parliament, and are in line with the recommendations of the Select Committee on Home Affairs in its recent report on the issue.

Stuart Reddish, National President of the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), has written to all MPs in Westminster asking them to back amendment.

“The British Retail Consortium’s most recent crime survey shows a 7% year-on-year increase in incidents of violence and abuse in 2019 – a shocking total of 455 cases each day.

“Recent research by retailers shows that the rate of incidents has risen even further during the coronavirus pandemic, as our members have worked hard to support their local communities and provide a shopping environment that is safe for customers and staff alike.

“No-one should face verbal or physical abuse just for going to work, but this has, for too long, been the reality of working in the retail sector.

“I would therefore ask you to stand with those who work so hard to serve their local communities, oppose threats and violence against retail workers and to support amendment NC31 this evening.”

Are you a business owner or shop staff who has faced abuse at work? Do you think there should be tougher laws to protect shop workers? Email