East Anglia: Co-op, union and police team up to help staff combat anti-social behaviour

Members of Suffolk Constabulary and USDAW join staff and management from the East of England Co-op a

Members of Suffolk Constabulary and USDAW join staff and management from the East of England Co-op at the launch of its 'Freedom From Fear' campaign to tackle anti-social behaviour at its stores.

Staff safety is at the forefront of a new campaign between police, a trade union and leading regional retailer to combat anti-social behaviour.

East of England Co-op launched its Freedom from Fear initiative at its Ravenswood store in Ipswich, with police officers and representatives from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers’ (USDAW) in attendance.

The Co-Op’s month-long campaign hopes to tackle anti-social behaviour in local communities and equip Co-Op staff with the tools to avoid becoming victims.

The campaign ties into USDAW’s annual respect week, which starts on Remembrance Day and aims to highlight the challenges faced by staff in the workplace.

Jamie Treloar, East of England Co-Op’s security manager, said there had been a 66% increase in reports of staff suffering verbal abuse in stores in just a few years.

He added: “The key thing is the partnership between the agencies to raise awareness that everyone has the right to go to work and not feel threatened. This campaign is fantastic for that.

“I think it’s good for staff morale when they see us doing things like this. They appreciate the training and support.”

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Staff will be given training in resilience and conflict management to help them deal with anti-social behaviour, while the Co-Op is also calling for measures to reduce the sale of super-strength alcohol.

Training and support started with 15 busy stores in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex yesterday, and will be rolled out to all East of England Co-op stores over the coming weeks.

Christne Henry, the area campaigner for USDAW, said: “Attitudes were once that the customer was always right, which meant you could walk into a store, verbally abuse someone and get away with it - now, people get banned.

“I think anti-social behaviour goes on everywhere at different levels, and we need to keep going otherwise people are going to forget it.

“Launching the month long campaign and working in partnership with police forces should create a legacy of awareness.”

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