Central England Co-op reinforces zero tolerance message after shocking and violent incident in West Bromwich store over the Easter weekend sees a colleague attacked

Posted by james brindle | Published: 22/04/2022

Central England Co-op has reaffirmed its message that violence and aggression towards staff will ‘not be tolerated’ after a colleague was attacked by two shoplifters during an incident in West Bromwich.

The shocking incident took place at the Hill Top food store in West Bromwich on Easter Monday evening at around 8.20pm and saw a male shoplifter enter the store and start ransacking the front of the shop.

When a female colleague tried to ask him to leave, she was shoved out of the way and verbally abused. Then as the shoplifter left the store, he and an assailant waiting on a motorbike outside continued to verbally abuse the colleague and threw bottles of weedkiller at her, striking her over the head, before they escaped with a large amount of stock.

Thankfully the colleague was not seriously hurt as a result of the attack and did not need hospital treatment, however understandably she was left extremely shaken by the ordeal, as were the whole store team and they are being supported. Central England Co-op is helping police with their investigation.

Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this incident at our Hill Top store where our colleague was assaulted while they were just trying to do their job serving their local community.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues and we’re offering our full support to the entire team at our Hill Top store. We’re working closely with the local police force to bring the criminal responsible to justice.

“These types of incidents reinforce our ongoing campaign calling for better protection for shopworkers and highlights our zero tolerance policy on all types of crime aimed at our colleagues and customers.

“Once again, we’re sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it’s not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”

New figures for 2021/22 from Central England Co-op showed that nearly 17,000 incidents have been reported over the last year including 117 assaults, 1,250 cases of verbal abuse and threats, 442 anti-social behaviour reports and 166 direct incidents related to Covid-19.

This means, compared to last year, the total number of incidents have jumped by 26.1%, with rises in verbal abuse, threats and anti-social behaviour.

Central England Co-op has rolled out a range of different measures in recent months including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.

It announced the roll out of colleague body cameras to over 50 stores last year following a successful trial designed to keep staff safe and help drive down crime in stores.

This comes after the retailer welcomed the news that an amendment has now been tabled by the Home Office to make an attack on shopworkers an aggravated offence after years of campaigning.

It, along with partners across the co-operative movement, and fellow retailers and trade unions, have been campaigning for better protection for colleagues with incidents of violence against shopworkers rising sharply in recent years.


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its over 8,000 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 20 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Its purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all.

It actively campaigns for the Government to increase sentencing for violent attacks on retail workers and works with FareShare Midlands and hundreds of food banks, generating enough food donations to create over 2.1 million meals for people in need.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, while it is also fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change and is on track to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £175,000 shared out between 116 good causes over the past 12 months.

Central England Co-op was named Leading Co-op of the Year by Co-operatives UK in 2021.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Contact details: www.centralengland.coop/press-and-media