Woolworths: Physical assaults on store employees soar by 50%

Woolworths call for 'collaborative action' to stamp out violence against retail workers

Woolworths: Physical assaults on store employees soar by 50%

Physical assault against store employees of Woolworths New Zealand jumped 50% in the previous year, according to the supermarket chain.

Woolworths released data revealing 329 incidents of physical assault against its team members in the last 12 months, up from 219 the previous year.

It also reported 95 acts of violence and aggression in its stores in the last year, up nine per cent from the 848 a year prior.

According to the supermarket chain, repeat offenders are behind some of the incidents they've seen the previous year. It "pleasingly" noted, however, that the use of weapons during these incidents dropped by 22%.

Jason Stockill, Woolworths New Zealand's director of stores, slammed these unlawful incidents as "unacceptable."

"Our team is being threatened and hurt in broad daylight, and despite offenders being arrested and going through the justice system - they're coming back and doing it again," he said in a statement.

Investment on safety, security

Woolworths has invested $45 million in a three-year programme to enhance security and safety measures for its store employees. Among these measures include team safety cameras across all stores, trolley lock systems, fog cannons, double-entry gates, as well as anti-sweep shelving.

The supermarket chain added that they are currently considering adding duress alarms for team members working in isolated locations.

"Our responsibility is to keep our team and customers safe in our stores, and we're investing in a range of security measures to help with that, but we can't do it alone. We need continued collaborative action across government, agency, and industry," Stockill said.

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith previously announced that they plan on introducing a new aggravating factor to address offences against sole charge workers and those whose home and business are interconnected.

But Retail NZ chief executive Carolyn Young said the measure "doesn't go far enough."

"Almost every retail worker has been affected by crime and aggression, whether they are sole charge or not," Young previously said.

Retail NZ said 92% of retailers in New Zealand are affected by crime, costing over $2.6 billion.

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