TLT has supported the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) with a successful campaign to create a new law that makes abusing a shop worker an aggravated offence in Scotland. 

TLT advised the SGF – who first introduced the private member’s bill on 10 October 2019 – on the wording of the bill and at various stages of its journey through the Scottish Parliament (including parliamentary debates) on the impact on their members. 

Significantly, TLT advised on the extent and impact of the bill’s provisions to create an aggravation where the offence is committed because a shop worker is seeking to verify the age of a customer where an age restricted product is being sold, such as alcohol or tobacco.  

The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill will now make it a new specific offence to assault, abuse or threaten retail staff, including delivery drivers. 

Abuse against shop workers has reached worrying heights during the pandemic. In October 2020, TLT reported that a third (31%) of UK retailers had experienced abuse against a shop worker. 

The majority (69%) of UK retailers said harsher punishments were needed to help stem the rise of violence and intimidation against shop staff – more than any other solutions.  

The Scottish Parliament had previously rejected a bill with similar aims, and on 15 September 2020, the UK government rejected a petition to enact similar legislation in England & Wales.

John Lee, head of policy & public affairs at SGF, says: “We made a commitment to our members two years ago to fight for this new law and have been building an evidence base ever since.

“It’s with very happy hearts that we finally see this being enacted. The support and hard work of Michael and everyone at TLT was vital in allowing us to effectively engage with the bill.”  

Michael McDougall, who led the team at TLT, says: “This new law means that anyone found guilty of the offence will be liable to a harsher penalty, in order to deter would-be aggressors. It’s an important step forward in tackling the UK-wide abuse issue, and recognises the important job these people do. 

“The pandemic has shown just how much we depend on shop workers to keep us safe, but also how incredibly vulnerable they are, and the unjust outcomes of these terrible incidents of abuse.  

“We are delighted to have played a part in rewriting the narrative on this issue, and bringing about a new approach to tackling it in Scotland.” 

Date published

08 February 2021

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