Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South and Chair of the Future of Retail APPG, led a successful rebellion on the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts (PCSC) Bill in favour of making assaults on those performing a public duty a statutory aggravating factor.
Lords Amendment 104 to the PCSC Bill places a statutory duty on the courts when sentencing offenders for assaults on workers providing a public service, performing a public duty or providing a service to the public, to treat that fact as an aggravating factor.
Following a rebellion in which 36 MPs signed Matt’s amendment, the then Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, pledged to introduce measures to protect retail workers.
Introducing the Government’s amendment at Report stage, Baroness Williams said that the proposed change “recognises the very strong public and parliamentary feeling about assaults against public-facing workers”.
“After a lot of hard work, I am delighted that our amendment has made its way into law. This is a landmark victory for shop workers and retail staff across the country.
“When the pandemic struck, many of us retreated to the safety of our own homes, but our army of key workers rolled up their sleeves and got on with their jobs to keep this country going.
“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude, but unfortunately not everyone has shown them that gratitude.
“These people aren’t assaulted because of where they work, but because they’re upholding the rules and undertaking statutory duties and responsibilities that we in Parliament have placed upon them. It is only fair and just that we offer them protection under the law in return.
“This is testament to the tireless campaigning from retail leaders, unions and cross-party parliamentarians coming together and applying pressure to the Government to do what is right.”