SGF’s recent hustings event attracted a top class panel of speakers from all the main political parties which included Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Scottish Conservative economy spokesman Murdo Fraser. The event also saw the launch of the SGF manifesto for Holyrood 2016.
A key area of focus for SGF in 2016 has been retail crime: in February the Federation published its first retail crime report and standards charter for safer businesses. The report showed that almost a quarter of convenience stores experience violence and abuse on a daily basis. This – and several recent cases of shocking violence against retailers – has led the Federation to call for shop workers to be given the same legal protection as emergency workers. The Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act of 2005 made it a specific offence to hinder, obstruct or assault someone in the provision of an emergency service. An attempt in the Scottish Parliament to extend this to shop workers was defeated in 2010.
During some forceful questioning on this issue, John Swinney indicated that a new SNP government would be willing to consider further legal protections for shop workers. Jeremy Purvis for the Liberal Democrats admitted that, while he had not supported the attempt to bring this forward in 2005, six years on he now thought the time was right to reconsider the issue. Murdo Fraser stated that, because of the evidence from SGF, the new Parliament should look again at retail crime. Speaking on behalf of Scottish Labour, Daniel Johnston said that as a retailer himself he knew how serious this issue was and that he would support legislation to protect shop workers. SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema had this to say:
“We very much welcome the consensus that has emerged from our hustings event about the importance of retail crime and the need to look at the most effective ways in which we can protect shop workers. The cross party support we have seen here will be vital in ensuring we get the legislation retailers need”.