Police and retailers have teamed up to launch a campaign to tackle violence and abuse against shopworkers in Bradford city centre.

ShopKind, which aims to discourage aggressive behaviour towards staff in shops and stores, is part of a national campaign backed by the Home Office.

Bradford City Neighbourhood Policing team is working with the local crime reduction partnership, City Centre Beat, along with Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) and The Broadway and Kirkgate shopping centres, to highlight the scale and impact of violence and abuse against shopworkers.

Inspector Richard Baildon, of Bradford City NPT, said; “We welcome the ShopKind initiative to the city centre of Bradford; through working with partners we can highlight that any abuse of shop staff is simply unacceptable.

“I would encourage anyone who has suffered from any kind of abuse, threats or violence to report it to your manager or, in serious cases, report it to the Police.”

Catherine Riley, Centre Manager of the Kirkgate Centre said; “Too many shopworkers are abused and assaulted by members of the public.

“Being physically or verbally attacked should never be part of anyone’s job. Staff need to feel safe and be treated with respect as the keyworkers that they are.”

The campaign wants to remind customers about the important role that shopworkers play and to promote respectful behaviour towards them, helping to make shops safer for everyone.

Jonny Noble, manager of Bradford BID, said; “Retail shops across the city – and country – are having a tough time of it, with the cost-of-living situation and high inflation on top of the long-running recovery from the Covid pandemic.

“Their staff are working hard to provide the best possible offer and service for customers in Bradford and we should be paying tribute to everything they do to help our city centre thrive in difficult times.

“Even without that, they deserve to be treated with politeness, kindness and respect and they should never have to face abuse, aggression or violence from the people they are doing their utmost to serve.”

The British Retail Consortium said that their recent crime survey showed that across the UK there were a shocking 450 incidents of violence and abuse against retail workers every single day, many of them crime related.

One retail assistant from West Yorkshire, for example, reported being assaulted by two men and a woman who were acting suspiciously in a menswear department.

“I approached them and could see that they were holding a large amount of stock and the next second they were running towards the door,” she said. “I followed out with a colleague and approached the female, who was instantly really aggressive towards me and was shouting and swearing at me.

“The two males that had ran ahead of her turned back and came towards me and both punched me in my head.

“I was just really surprised at the lengths people will go to when shoplifting from a store – it’s like the staff really don’t matter to these people.”

Insp Baildon said: “ShopKind is about reminding offenders of the risks they are taking when they commit offences and also highlighting the support that is in place for retail businesses at this difficult economic time.

“We have had in place a really strong partnership with our retail partners over many years – called City Centre Beat – and, with police support, we have built up a radio network where a suspect in one shop can be very quickly highlighted to staff right across the city centre.

“We have an intelligence and briefing system – that is a state of the art system for ensuring that information and intelligence can be shared quickly.

“All this is supported by an enthusiastic and talented City Centre Beat team together with a dedicated neighbourhood team geared to driving down retail theft.”

Mr Steve Baker of City Centre Beat said; “CCB Works with over 145 members of the Daytime and Night time economy in Bradford City Centre. Our aims are to reduce Crime and Anti Social Behaviour in and around our businesses. To often the Retail , Hospitality and Transport staff are subject to Abuse and Violence. This is completely unacceptable and anything we can do working with our partners that helps reduce this problem will be of benefit not only to them but also all businesses working in the city centre of Bradford. Raising awareness of the issues and encouraging more businesses to report any incidents will benefit everyone trying to make this a safe and better place to work. This national campaign shows that this is a problem in all of our cities and towns throughout the country and CCB are pleased to be able to contribute to raising awareness of the national Campaign

Ian Ward, General Manager of The Broadway said; “We fully support this initiative to help reduce the abuse received by both our retail and Centre staff. We already work closely with all our retailers to encourage them to report all aspects of crime including any abuse or assault directed towards them. It is important that this is reported with the police to fully understand the extent of the problem.”