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Issue:- 20 / 21January 2009

Tougher penalties for assaulting shopworkers

POEPLE who assault shopworkers in Scotland could get tougher penalties if a new bill is successful.  The bill is being brought by Hugh Henry MSP and is supported by Usdaw. It calls for the assault of shopworkers to be recognised as an aggravated crime, as it currently is for front line workers such as the emergency services. The Union is also campaigning for the same protection for shopworkers in England and Wales.

Hugh Henry MSP said:- "Violent physical assaults against workers serving the public in Scotland are an all too common phenomenon. While progress has been made in strengthening criminal penalties for assaults against some workers, too many still lack sufficient protection at work.  The Emergency Workers Act 2005 sought to provide additional protection to certain groups of workers by introducing tougher penalties for those found guilty of assaulting, hindering or obstructing those workers. This proposed legislation seeks to apply the protections contained within the Emergency Workers Act to any worker who provides a face to face service to the public."

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary, added:- "Shopworkers provide a vital service to the public, but they are all too often seen as an easy target for violence and abuse. Our latest survey showed that 1 in 10 shopworkers has been assaulted whilst at work.  Usdaw is supporting Hugh Henry's bill through the Scottish parliament and we have started campaigning for a similar law in England and Wales."

Since the introduction of the Emergency Workers Act, the number of assaults on emergency staff has fallen and the number of convictions has risen. This is alongside a rise on assaults on workers not covered by the act.

Due to sufficient support from MSPs, The Workers (Aggravated Offences) Bill can move forward. It is due to be drafted by early May 2010 and is backed by the unions Usdaw, Unite, Unison, CWU and ASLEF.


“THE current UK self-defence laws work only against the people that are of no threat to society,” says Tim Larkin, founder of Las Vegas-based self-defence school, Target Focus Training.

The Las Vegas-based self-defense expert has criticised the police after former pop star Myleene Klass was warned by officers for waving a kitchen knife to scare off intruders who had broken into the garden of her Hertfordshire home. Klass who acted on instinct to protect her daughter, was told that she could be the one liable for prosecution for brandishing the knife.

“When there are no law enforcement units at the ready, one has to question why the potential victims that attempt to protect themselves are constantly portrayed by the law enforcement and media as extremists  If Miss Klass had not scared them off, and they had caused harm to her and her child, would she be applauded for her restraint by these same detractors?”

Larkin has joined in the call for a change in Britain’s laws on self-defence.  “Miss Klass is an easy target for law enforcement to intimidate into not grabbing a kitchen knife in a desperate attempt to scare off 2 teenage miscreants who were illegally on her property.  It’s much harder for the law enforcement community to deliver that ‘intimidating threat’ to the thugs that grab knives to rob, maim, and kill others.” said Larkin, who has taught Navy SEALS and FBI hostage teams in hand-to-hand combat.

Larkin has been doing a tour of the highest crime areas of Britain including Greater Manchester, London, West Midlands, Nottinghamshire and Humberside. He recently caused controversy by bringing Target Focus Training to British citizens, teaching in a 2 day seminar in Slough on the use of ‘ultimate violence’ in self defence.

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