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Kent Police and Crime Commissioner reveals he was attacked when he worked in a shop and calls for tougher sentences

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Kent's Crime Commissioner has revealed he was once attacked when he worked in a shop, as he calls on the government to introduce tougher sentences for criminals who assault retail staff.

Matthew Scott says he was once kicked and punched outside the shop he used to work in.

Matthew Scott talks about the issue of abuse on shop workers

The revelation comes as recent statistics show there has been a dramatic rise in such incidents during the pandemic with almost 90% of shop workers across the UK having experienced verbal abuse, while 9% have been physically assaulted.

A survey by retail trade union Usdaw showed that almost eight in 10 workers felt that the situation had worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Scott, said that this increase was down to the fact that "there are some horrible people out there, who are incredibly frustrated and feel the need to take it out on other people."

He added: "It's totally unacceptable behaviour and these are the kind of people who will also assault emergency workers; we need to do more to protect people in frontline positions."

Mr Scott revealed that he had been assaulted while working in a shop previously.

He said: "It can have a long impact on anyone who is abused, I was a shop worker once and I was assaulted on my way to work, just outside the shop.

"All I wanted to do was go to work, there were people causing trouble out the front and they decided to kick and punch me.

"I know exactly what it's like for people, and that's why I think it's important for us to work with councils, businesses and the police to protect workers."

While Kent has seen it's fair share of physical assaults on workers, an increasing problem seen since the start of the pandemic is residents refusing to wear masks in stores, despite regulations.

There have been several high-profile incidents of this in the county, including one caught on video in Dartford, while a Bluewater shopper became the first in the county to be charged for refusing to wear a mask in the centre.

A man became the first to be charged with not wearing a mask at Bluewater
A man became the first to be charged with not wearing a mask at Bluewater

Mr Scott has pledged that the police will work with businesses to protect their workers, but also called for bigger punishments for those caught.

While the government has recently doubled the sentences for those who assault emergency staff, no such increase has been put in place for shop workers.

He said: "I think the problem really lies with the fact that in too many circumstances criminals are not getting harsh enough sentences for causing harm to shop workers, nurses firefighters or the police.

"The news about the increase to sentences for emergency worker assaults is great, but I hope that the government will look at the guidelines for those who are assaulting other people on our frontline in this pandemic."

Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis joined Mr Scott in demanding more justice for shop workers.

KMTV reported in January on shop owner Ranjit Dhaliwal who has received death threats

He said: "Our latest survey results clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced by shopworkers and demonstrate the need for a ‘protection of shopworkers’ law.

"It has been a terrible year for our members, with almost 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse, two-thirds threatened and nearly one in 10 assaulted.

"We are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job.

“The UK government has persistently opposed new legislation, offering little more than sympathy and objecting to the Alex Norris protection of shopworkers bill in the House of Commons.

"We are now looking for MPs to support key workers across the retail sector and help turn around the UK government’s opposition.”

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