Ipswich MP visits JD Sports to help stamp out crime against shop workers
PUBLISHED: 06:47 29 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:40 29 October 2020
Shop workers shouldn’t have to face threats or violence - particularly during Covid-19, Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said after visiting staff at the town’s JD Sports.
Mr Hunt visited the Ipswich branch of the national chain to show his backing for the British Retail Consortium’s Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge, which aims to protect retail workers against crime and violence.
He spoke with store manager Courtney Fowler about the issues workers at the Westgate Street store had faced, including since shops had reopened following the coronavirus lockdown.
He was told there had been a rise in thefts in the store and one occasion where police had to be called, because a person was being aggressive and violent.
However, he said: “It is quite difficult for them to intervene, as they can’t be breaching social distancing.”
Shoplifting has been a recurring problem in Ipswich town centre over the years, with the Ipswich Central street ranger team recently receiving reports of distraction thefts.
Those incidents have mainly involved a man entering stores and requesting directions on a map.
Mr Hunt said: “Sometimes, when these things happen, people don’t even report it because they feel it is a hassle and that so often it never results in action.”
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He said he wanted to ensure Suffolk got a fair level of police funding so that stretched officers could spend more time out on the beat, responding to crimes.
But he also encouraged people to always report incidents, saying: “Often, low-level crime isn’t reported and that makes it difficult to monitor whether it’s going up or down.”
Mr Hunt said it was also important shoppers respect staff trying to enforce Covid-secure rules.
“It’s important people realise staff aren’t trying to be awkward for the sake of being awkward,” he said.
“They are taking steps to ensure we can purchase items, but at the same time doing so in a safe way.
“If someone disagrees with the government guidelines, they are better off writing to me than complaining to them.”
Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports: “The safety and security of our staff is our highest priority as a business.
“We want to ensure that people don’t have to face threatening or violent behaviours in order to do their jobs.
“We fully support the BRC in the Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge and will do everything we can to bring awareness to this issue.”
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