May 14, 2012

BRC publishes new guidelines on "Tackling Violence Against Staff"

The new best practice guidelines published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Monday set out to “increase awareness of the impact that violence against staff has on retail employees and to challenge the perception that daily abuse is acceptable”. 

The new guidelines complement the 2010 BRC and Skills for Security guidance for retail security functions 'Physical Intervention: Reducing Risk'. This guidance, endorsed by ACPO and the SIA, was the result of a national project chaired by Bill Fox of Maybo.

The guidance starts by stating: “the most worrying trend [identified in the 2010/11 Annual Retail Crime Survey] was the increase in violence directed at retail staff. At least 35,313 staff had suffered physical or verbal attacks or threats.

"In areas where there is a greater fear of violence and intimidation, retailers report a greater turnover of staff and higher incidents of sickness/absence. Unfortunately many employees now appear to accept this abuse as ‘part of the job’.”

The new guidance has the backing of Usdaw, the shop workers' union. Usdaw General Secretary, John Hannett, is reported as saying: "Usdaw welcomes these guidelines from the BRC. We share the BRC's concern that reports of threats and verbal abuse have escalated and the rise in robberies over the last year shows that there is no room for complacency. Usdaw is committed to working with the BRC and with employers to make it clear that abuse is not part of the job."

Key messages

The guidelines identify two high level guiding principles:

  • There should be clear policies and procedures relating to violence in the workplace. These should be well communicated to retail staff so that they understand that violence in the workplace will not be tolerated and understand how the organisation will support them from violent or abusive acts.
  • Training retail staff in conflict management helps them to identify potentially violent or abusive situations and prevent them from escalating. Where practicable, training should be scaled according to the roles and responsibilities of individual employees.

Good Practice

Examples of good practice from retailers when tackling violence against staff make up the bulk of the guidelines. The good practice examples are grouped into 6 different topics:

  • Developing a policy
  • Working environment
  • Prevention
  • Training
  • Reporting
  • Post Incident

Click here for a summary of the guidelines

Click here for the BRC publication