Violence and verbal abuse in shops: offender and victim perspectives

Dr Emmeline Taylor1

1City, University of London, London, UK

Multiple indicators demonstrate that the frequency and severity of violent incidents in shops has been increasing. For example, The British Retail Crime Survey 2019 estimates that 115 violent assaults occur in shops every day and the ANZ Retail Crime Survey 2019 reports growing levels of aggression directed at shop workers. While there is some developing awareness of the scenarios within which violence and abuse can occur (such as challenging shop thieves, enforcing age restricted sales policies, and; refusing service to individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol), there remains little understanding of why some individuals become violent and abusive in these contexts and others do not. This paper reports findings from two distinct cohorts of people; shop workers who have been severely impacted by the frequency and/or severity of incidents occurring at their place of work, and; perpetrators who provide vital insight in how and why they became violent and/or verbally abusive in a retail setting. The reasons for the increase in verbal abuse and violence are multiple and complex. Yet, in England – the site of the present study – the link between austerity measures and an upsurge in shop theft and violence cannot be ignored. Fewer police resources and disinvestment in community services have made it difficult to tackle the root causes of violent crime in all of its forms. The paper suggests a number of transferrable recommendations for government, industry, and communities on how to tackle the increase in violence occurring in shops.


Biography:

Dr. Emmeline Taylor is Associate Professor in Criminology at City, University of London. She has completed empirical research in a number of areas including; armed robbery, burglary, retail crime, surveillance, and several evaluations of criminal justice initiatives in England and Australia. She has published five books and more than 50 articles and reports.

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