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Shopworkers in communities to get the protection they deserve as Government announce assaulting a retail worker will be made a standalone criminal offence

FOLLOWING a record year for retail crime across the industry, Co-op welcomes plans announced by the Government to introduce legislation to make attacks and assaults on shopworkers a standalone offence as part of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Under the plans, perpetrators could be sent to prison for up to 6 months, receive an unlimited fine and be banned from going back to the shop where they committed their crimes, with Criminal Behaviour Orders barring them visiting specific premises. Breaching an order is also a criminal offence and carries a 5 year maximum prison sentence. For the most serious cases of assault, such as causing grievous bodily harm with intent, offenders could face a life sentence.

The Co-op described the move as a victory for co-operation as its member owners joined shopworkers and communities to call for urgent change following unprecedented levels of attacks and assaults against all retail workers.

Earlier this year, a hard hitting new report commissioned by Co-op, and written by Professor of Criminology at City, University of London, Emmeline Taylor, set out a ten point plan focused on turning the tide on prolific and repeat offenders who relentlessly blight communities and wreak physical and mental harm on store workers.

Central to the report's recommendations is making an attack on shopworkers a stand-alone offence which is something the Co-op has campaigned for since 2018 – and today's announcement is seen as a move which builds on the advancements seen to address crime, violence and intimidation since the introduction of the Retail Crime Action Plan.

Shirine Khoury-Haq, Chief Executive of the Co-op, said:- "This announcement will resonate with shopworkers the length and breadth of the country. As a Co-op, we exist to make a genuine difference for our 5 million member owners and the issues they care about. This change shows the true power of co-operation, with our Co-op member-owners having called for this urgent change to ensure no shop worker should face violence or abuse as part of their job. It will make a real difference to the lives of not only thousands of our Co-op colleagues, but also shopworkers across the nation and it sends a strong and clear message to shopworkers that they have been listened to, and a warning to criminals that their unacceptable behaviour will no longer be tolerated."

Paul Gerrard, Co-op Director of Public Affairs and Campaigning, said:- "Co-op sees every day the violence and threats our colleagues, like all retail workers, face as they serve the communities they live in. We have long called for a standalone offence of attacking or abusing a shopworker and so we very much welcome the Government's announcement today. Co-op will re-double its work with Police forces but these measures will undoubtedly, when implemented, keep our shopworkers safer, protect the shops they work in and, help the communities they serve."

Co-op has invested more than £200 million over recent years in colleague and store safety and security, this includes the latest interactive CCTV; body-worn cameras; which Co-op has used since 2019 to capture real time audio and visual footage at the touch of a button; the roll-out of fortified kiosks; use of dummy (or empty) packaging to deter bulk-theft and, covert (undercover) and non-covert guarding - with the tactical use of specially trained guards able to detain criminals.

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North West SCITT announces new Teacher training partnership with national charity

A new charity partnership has opened up opportunities for aspiring Teachers in:- West Lancashire, Skelmersdale, and Southport to begin training in September 2024.

Trainee Teachers across Lancashire and Merseyside are set to benefit from a brand new Initial Teacher Training Programme, as a local organisation announces a new partnership with a national education charity.

North West SCITT is a provider of Primary Teacher Training, based at:- Hillside Primary School, in Skelmersdale. It has 24 partner Schools spread across:- rural West Lancashire, Urban Skelmersdale, and Coastal Southport.

North West SCITT has been involved in recruiting and Training Teachers for over a decade. It has trained around 500 Primary School Teachers, with a 100% employment rate for trainees. More than nine in ten of those trainees now work as 91% of Teachers and the remaining 9% have gone on to work in Schools as supply Teachers or Teaching Assistants.

To build on this success, North West SCITT has now become a founding partner of national education charity Ambition Institute, to provide a brand new training programme.

With the Teacher Training programme, people in:- Southport, Skelmersdale and beyond can qualify as a Primary School Teacher in 12 months, gaining hands on classroom experience in a diverse range of School settings. Those who prefer to study part time, can join their brand new part time route, studying 3 days a week over 2 years.

The course draws on the latest evidence on what makes teaching effective in raising pupil achievement.

Ian Eaton, Chair of North West SCITT, said:- "We believe in training Teachers using the most up to date research, so that Teachers are equipped with the knowledge they need to make a real difference to children's lives. Over the past decade, we have proudly witnessed our trainees progress in their teaching carers, into curriculum leaders and even HeadTeachers. These new Teachers will be the future leaders of Schools, shaping the outcomes of children and leaving a lasting impact on their local communities. Through our Teacher Training programme, we will be championing inclusivity, both for our trainees and for pupils in their future classrooms. Our focus is to meet the needs of all children, all the time."

Hilary Spencer, Chief Executive Officer at Ambition Institute, said:- "A great Teacher changes the future every day. Especially for children who have had a tough start in life, a Teacher can be the critical factor in their success. That is why we believe every Teacher should have access to high quality professional development from the very outset of their career. North West SHARES does fantastic work with Schools across:- Skelmersdale, Southport, and West Lancashire and we're looking forward to building on our partnership so that every Teacher in those areas can get high quality support."

Applications are now open for the 1st cohort of Trainee Teachers, which will begin in September 2024.

People interested in starting a teaching career with North West SCITT and Ambition Institute should access further details / make contact via the contacts page on the website.

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