The UK Government has announced plans to make assaulting a retail worker a stand alone criminal offence.

Retailer Co-op has welcomed the decision as member-owners joined communities and shop workers, calling for urgent changes after seeing unprecedented levels of attacks and assaults against retail workers.

Worcester News: Co-op has welcomed the move and highlighted its own efforts to curb assault and abuse towards staff

Violators could face up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine, and a ban from re-entering the shop where the crime occurred, with Criminal Behaviour Orders barring them visiting specific premises.

There is a five-year maximum prison sentence for breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order.

For severe assault cases such as intentional grievous bodily harm, offenders could face a life sentence.

"It sends a strong and clear message to shopworkers that they have been listened to, and a warning to criminals that their unacceptable behaviour will no longer be tolerated," said Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief executive of the Co-op.