MP leading fight to better protect shop staff backs Central England Co-op’s ‘zero tolerance’ plea

Posted by rob smyth | Published: 12/08/2020

An MP leading the fight for better protection for shop workers has thrown his weight behind Central England Co-op’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to violence and aggression towards colleagues.

Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North, has been campaigning for years via his Assault on Shop Workers Bill for staff in stores to be afforded greater protection in carrying out those public duties.

The parliamentarian has now backed the retailer’s plea to would-be criminals to think twice before they target its staff after three appalling attacks – one which included a knife and another a wrench – took place within 10 days of each other at Central England Co-op stores.

Alex said: “Every day there are more than 400 acts of violence or abuse against shopworkers. Each one of those is a person just trying to do their job.

“The recent unprovoked attacks are an example of this and are utterly unacceptable. That's why I strongly believe Parliament needs to protect shopworkers better. My thoughts are with those involved and I commit to taking action to try to tackle this scourge”

The first incident, in Markfield, Leicester, saw an innocent colleague verbally abused, physically attacked and then robbed while he lay injured on the floor in an unprovoked attack.

The second, which happened just last week in Barnsley, saw a criminal stab a colleague during a robbery at the store.

The third saw a colleague in Shepshed, Leicestershire, pushed, hit in the head and threatened with a wrench after a customer was asked for ID while trying to buy an energy drink and then attempted to leave the store with a drink without paying.

Thankfully, all three are recovering from their injuries and major investigations have been launched by local police forces.

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “These three incidents are truly shocking and showcase why the Government urgently needs to do more to better protect our frontline shop workers.

“Stronger laws and punishments are needed for criminals who feel that it is acceptable to target shop workers in these types of brutal and appalling ways.

“While we continue to campaign for more to be done, we also want to send a message to would-be criminals. We have a zero tolerance approach to any kind of crime and, if you still want to commit a crime, we will work around the clock with local police forces to bring you to justice in an effort to keep our colleagues and customers safe.”

The retailer’s zero tolerance campaign has also received backing from over 200 other MPs up and down the country and from across the pollical divide. Support has also come from several police forces and police and crime commissioners.

New figures from the retailer, which has over 260 stores across 16 counties, recently showed assaults jumped by 100%, threats and intimidation by 25% and verbal abuse by 175% since the start of the year, and since the lockdown was introduced, there have been over 100 incidents related directly to people using COVID-19 as a threat.

Some examples of incidents have included multiple threats by customers to cough on colleagues and ‘give them Coronavirus’ and further threats of assaults because people have had to queue to enter stores, social distance or simply because they do not have a specific product.

Over the past three years, Central England Co-op has invested heavily in measures to protect colleagues including fitting stores with external motion detectors and a centrally monitored CCTV system fitted which allows colleagues to call for assistance at the touch of a button.



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, travel and property investment.


Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish. 


Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.


Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 


We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.


We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.


Visit for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood



Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle


Phone - 01543 421390


Email -