Children as young as ten fuelling rise in attacks on high street staff and security

Thousands of incidents of anti-social behaviour, customer complaints and shoplifting reported already in 2024, says leading security company Kingdom Security, who have a specialist retail division, working with leading retailer brands and who deploy trained retail security personnel at over 600 retail sites nationwide. 

While MPs are being urged to back changes to the Criminal Justice Bill that would make assaulting or abusing a shop worker a specific standalone offence, Kingdom Security, part of  Kingdom Services Group are reporting a surge in incidents against staff and security officers on the high street that they say include children as young as 10 years old.  

With the national retailer Co-op heading up calls to crack down on an alarming rise of violence towards shop workers that is getting more and more difficult to manage, this year alone Kingdom Security has seen around 500 to 700 incidents reported per week across their national retail customer brands. 

“In the past couple of years, we have seen a massive increase in incidents– anti-social behaviours, looting, abuse of staff and security,” says John Nussbaum, Director of Service for Retail at Kingdom Security. “And this is with the security staff acting as a visible deterrent and other security measures – without this, the number of incidents would have been much higher.”

“We’ve also noticed a really worrying rise in teenagers contributing to this – and children as young as 10, which is a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Staff may try to have a conversation with the parents if they can, but the situation needs very careful handling as the wrong response can make a situation worse. All Kingdom Security Officers, rapid response teams, store detectives and Senior Leadership team are specially trained to deal with younger people, teenagers and their families.”

If the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill is made, the abuse of shop workers would carry a sentence of 12 months behind bars or perpetrators could be slapped with a £10,000 fine.

This follows the introduction of the Retail Crime Action Plan in October last year, to combat the rise in antisocial behaviour towards shop workers, aimed at putting in more robust measures to protect them and reduce crime. It sets out the police’s commitment to prevent shoplifting and prioritise police attendance of shop crimes if there is violence involved or shoplifters are being detained by the security officers. The NPCC have stated that since the introduction of the Retail Crime Action Plan, police non-attendance rate has improved to 38%.

But retail workers need to be protected even before the police arrive and can deal with the situation, as there are many incidents reported where the person who has been shoplifting or abusing staff or security workers has to be let go before the police arrive.

“Police, security officers and staff need to be working together to prevent the abuse of shop workers that is becoming more and more prevalent with shoplifting. Even if police respond more rapidly to incidents and patrol high streets more, the shop security are still the first line of defence and so need to be highly trained to protect customers, staff, and themselves from the threat of violence,” says John Nussbaum. 

“Companies can spend millions on preventative measures to make stores safer, but without security that know the best practice for dealing with these volatile situations, shops could become an increasingly dangerous place to work. Highly trained security at the doors of shops can help neutralise situations and keep make sure both shop staff and customers feel calm and protected.”

Recommended For You

About the Author: Michael O'Sullivan