Terrifying hammer attack sees shop owner back new law to protect staff

Imran Mohammed, the owner of Mobile Clinic in Orford Place, Norwich.

Imran Mohammed, the owner of Mobile Clinic in Orford Place, Norwich. Inset top, his brother Aman was injured after being attacked in the shop with a hammer. Inset bottom, the hammer seen on CCTV moments before the attack. - Credit: Denise Bradley/Imran Mohammed

The owner of a business who saw his own brother attacked by a hammer wielding customer has backed calls for a new criminal offence to protect shop workers.

Retail trade union Usdaw said nine out of 10 retail workers have been verbally abused in the last 12 months and one in 10 have been physically attacked.

It has urged the prime minister to include specific tougher sentencing for shop assaults in the government’s flagship new crime bill.

Imran Mohammed, the owner of Mobile Clinic on Orford Place in Norwich, said the impact on staff could be long lasting. 

Aman Mohammed bleeding after the attack on Tuesday.

Aman Mohammed bleeding after the attack by a customer at Mobile Clinic in Norwich. - Credit: Imran Mohammed

His brother Aman has still not been able to return to work full time after he was punched in the face and attacked with a hammer after he told a customer they could not return a phone.

“When he did come back it was a nightmare because he was scared of every customer,” he said.


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“People don’t understand the impact it has on people.”

Mr Mohammed backed calls for a dedicated offence similar to those that protect frontline NHS workers. “There should be a very harsh punishment. No one has a right to treat shop workers like this,” he said. 

Central England Co-op is backing Usdaw's campaign against violence and abuse to shop workers  

Central England Co-op, which has a number of stores in Norfolk, is backing Usdaw's campaign against violence and abuse to shop workers. - Credit: Alex Cantrill-Jones/Central England Co-op

Other examples of abuse in the region include a teenage shop worker in Thetford who was left with a broken nose and serious concussion after he confronted a man who attempted to steal a bottle of alcohol.

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The problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Central England Co-op, which has a number of stores in Norfolk and Suffolk, said 300 crimes related directly to Covid have been recorded in stores since the start of the pandemic.

Incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167pc, anti-social behaviour by 39pc, assaults by 35pc and threats by 16pc in 12 months.

Shop workers have reported incidents of abuse are on the rise in lockdown. Pic: EDP

Shop workers have reported incidents of abuse are on the rise in lockdown. - Credit: Archant

Earlier this year the influential cross-party House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee recommended a new criminal offence to protect shop workers after hearing harrowing accounts of the violence, threats and abuse.

But the government has indicated that it believes current laws on assault and violence provide sufficient legal protection.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary. - Credit: PA

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “We remain disappointed and frustrated that the government has still not committed to a simple stand-alone offence for assaulting a retail worker, to encourage prosecutions and provide the deterrent effect that our members are desperately looking for.”

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