Central England Co-op reinforces zero tolerance campaign after security guard punched in the head

Central England Co-op has reaffirmed its campaign calling for better protection for colleagues after a security guard was punched in the head during a violent shoplifting incident in the Black Country.

The retailer is reinforcing its message that violence and aggression towards staff will ‘not be tolerated’ following an incident which saw a shoplifter turn aggressive after being approached by the guard at its Hill Top store in West Bromwich.

The guard was punched to the head and was taken to hospital due to the injuries he suffered – he has since been released and is now recovering at home. The shoplifter fled after the attack and police are now investigating the incident.

The store colleagues present during the incident are also understandably shaken and are supporting police with their investigation.

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this unacceptable incident in West Bromwich and our thoughts are with the security guard who was the victim of this appalling attack.

“We are offering our full support to the entire team at the Hilltop store and are working closely with the local police force to bring the criminals responsible to justice.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues who are just doing their job.

“These types of incidents reinforce our ongoing campaign calling for better protection for shopworkers and highlights our zero tolerance policy on all types of crime aimed at our colleagues and customers.

“Once again, we are sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it is not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”

This comes after the retailer asked people to ‘be kind’ as part of a campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic encouraging customers to treat shop colleagues with respect and to repeat the Co-op’s long-term message to would-be criminals that ‘it is not worth the risk’ to target them.

New research has shown that, in the last 12 months, incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167%, anti-social behaviour by 39%, assaults by 35% and threats by 16% compared to 2019.

The retailer also revealed that 312 crimes related directly to Covid-19 have been recorded in stores since the start of the pandemic.

Recently, to help combat this problem, the retailer rolled out a range of different measures including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

The retailer has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shopworkers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.