Central England Co-op reinforces zero tolerance crime campaign after violent incident at Sutton Coldfield store sees colleague attacked

Posted by james brindle | Published: 18/11/2021

Central England Co-op has reaffirmed its campaign calling for better protection for shopworkers after a colleague was hit over the head with a wine bottle in a violent shoplifting incident in Sutton Coldfield.

The retailer is reinforcing its message that violence and aggression towards staff will ‘not be tolerated’ after a shoplifter attacked an off-duty colleague at the Birmingham Road store, hitting him over the head with a wine bottle in an unprovoked attacked after recognising the colleague when leaving the store.

The colleague involved was assessed by paramedics following the incident on Friday (12 November) morning and thankfully did not need to attend hospital. All the team at the store who witnessed the attack were understandably extremely shaken by the ordeal. They are supporting police with their investigation.

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this unacceptable incident in Sutton Coldfield where our colleague was attacked while off-duty. We are thankful they escaped with just only minor injuries as the nature of the attack could easily have led top much more serious injuries.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues and are offering our full support to the entire team at the Birmingham Road store. We are working closely with the local police force to bring the criminal responsible to justice.

“These types of incidents reinforce our ongoing campaign calling for better protection for shopworkers and highlights our zero tolerance policy on all types of crime aimed at our colleagues and customers.

“Once again, we are sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it is not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”

This incident comes as we are asking shoppers to treat our colleagues with respect as part of a fortnight of national campaigns aimed at highlighting the issue of shopworker safety.

During the next fortnight, we will be supporting the Usdaw Respect for Shopworkers Week and the Shopkind winter campaign.

From 15 November, Usdaw’s Respect for Shopworkers Week encourages shoppers to treat colleagues with the respect they deserve while serving communities.

The Shopkind winter campaign, which runs from 22 November, is based on the theme of ‘Tis the season to be #ShopKind’. The aim of the campaign is to recognise the sacrifice of shopworkers at Christmas time and highlight the importance of thanking them and respecting them.

Recent figures from Central England Co-op showed that nearly 12,000 incidents have been reported so far this year including 81 assaults, 959 cases of verbal abuse and threats, 307 anti-social behaviour reports and 160 direct incidents related to Covid-19.

This means, compared to last year, the total number of incidents have jumped by 26.1%, with rises in verbal abuse, threats and anti-social behaviour.

Recently, Central England Co-op has rolled out a range of different measures including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

It has just announced the roll out of colleague body cameras to over 50 stores following a successful trial designed to keep staff safe and help drive down crime in stores.

The retailer has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shopworkers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its over 7,800 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Its purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all.

It actively campaigns for the Government to increase sentencing for violent attacks on retail workers and works with FareShare Midlands and hundreds of food banks, generating enough food donations to create over 2.1 million meals for people in need.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, while it is also fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change and is on track to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £175,000 shared out between 116 good causes over the past 12 months.

Central England Co-op was named Leading Co-op of the Year by Co-operatives UK in 2021.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

Email - publicrelations@centralengland.coop