POLICE chiefs have used legislation designed to crack down on the abuse of retail workers to charge almost 20 people since the turn of the year.

Inverclyde and Renfrewshire division’s local policing commander Gordon McCreadie has vowed that the force will take violence against shop staff workers ‘incredibly seriously’.

He made the declaration at a meeting of the local police and fire scrutiny committee.

His comments came after Labour councillor Francesca Brennan pressed him about the steps local police were taking to support shopworkers and train officers in dealing with retail crime.

Councillor Brennan highlighted the work of her party colleague and MSP Daniel Johnson in bringing forward the Protection of Workers Act, which gave new protections to retail workers, and asked divisional chiefs what work they were doing with local retailers.

She said: “It is something that will be important to us all because we want people working in retail to feel safe and secure.

“We want our high streets to thrive and we want our towns and villages to be places where people feel safe to go and shop.

“What we are hearing is that there is still a risk of threat, intimidation and abuse of people working in that sector and a number of organisations like USDAW and green grocers’ foundations have come together with politicians to check that the processes within the law are good in tackling this.”

Chief Superintendent McCreadie responded: “Let me give you an assurance that we take any violence against retail workers incredibly seriously, in the same manner in which we would take any violence against emergency service workers incredibly seriously.

“I trust in terms of the prosecutorial decision making the Crown Office would do likewise and I’ll raise it the next time I meet the sheriff and the procurator fiscal to make sure our concerns are noted.

“In terms of training I’m confident our officers are comfortable in dealing with this. The sad truth of the matter is they need to know the legislation because they apply it and as you say it does occur, so it’s not some obscure piece of legislation that’s dusted down once in a blue moon.

“It is something that we do frequently have to refer to and use in terms of prosecution reports, so the officers and staff comfortable with the use of it. “

CS McCreadie then invited one of his officers to give further figures about retail crime locally.

The officer said: “The Protection of Workers Scotland act which was introduced in 2021 is something our officers are very well trained on, they do make best use of that legislation, it is applicable.

“To put some context around that, since December 1, so going back the last six months or so, there’s been 25 crime reports raised under that legislation and out of those 25, nineteen individuals have been charged under that legislation in the last six months.

“That’s not too bad a detection rate to be honest and as the commander says we take assaults against retail workers very seriously.”