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Shopworker abuse on the rise as man describes being slapped by customer

PUBLISHED: 10:20 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:32 02 May 2019

Shopworker Ben Baldwin was once slapped in the face while at work. Picture: supplied by Ben Baldwin

Shopworker Ben Baldwin was once slapped in the face while at work. Picture: supplied by Ben Baldwin

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A shopworker has described being slapped in the face by a customer, as new figures show that staff are being abused more than once every three weeks.

Shopworkers' trade union Usdaw has released shocking statistics from its annual survey which shows that on average shopworkers in the East of England were verbally abused, threatened or assaulted 19 times last year.

Its survey shows that 62pc experienced verbal abuse, 37pc were threatened by a customer, with 28 assaulted every day.

Ben Baldwin, an Usdaw member who is a supermarket worker for a major retailer, said: “It has got worse over the last 10 years. This current generation does not respect people as much as older generations.

“I remember being slapped in the face about four years ago, when I was working at a Dereham superstore. Two drunken lads came in and Diamond White was not on the shelves. They got annoyed and slapped me one. I had a red mark on my face.

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“They were banned, but no charges were brought. You are just seen as the scum of the earth sometimes.

“Shop work has traditionally been quite a low paid job, but we are providing a service, just like health workers.

“Most customers are absolutely great, but the minority brings it down. It's very important to bring the issue up, as it's been simmering beneath the surface.”

Mr Baldwin, 52, who lives in Sheringham and has nearly 40 years' retail experience, after starting at Roys of Wroxham, aged 14, said tougher penalties were needed.

He added: “If you assaulted a health worker you would be banned from an A&E department or wherever, and if you assault a shopworker, maybe you should be banned from the high street.”

Other examples of abuse in the region include a shopworker in King's Lynn who refused to sell a tin of spray glue to a man under 18, who then threw it at him, and a shopkeeper in Norwich who had a hairdryer thrown at him.

The Government is seeking the views of organisations and individuals on abuse toward shop staff. Submissions can be made at www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/PVAUE/

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