Keir Starmer tells shopworkers he’ll finish shoplifting epidemic

Keir Starmer has promised shopworkers he would crackdown on violence against them in stores if he wins power.

The Labour leader made the commitment as he was quizzed by Morrison’s workers at a store in Swindon on his plans for government. Paula McGregor, 50, who has worked for the company for seven years, asked Mr Starmer how he planned to tackle a rise in shoplifting and abuse of workers.

Speaking at one of the supermarket’s stores in front of workers, the Labour leader said: “This is such an important issue. We have to crackdown on it.” He said Labour would create new powers to protect those working in retail and shops, saying: “It’s not just the shoplifting, it’s also the abuse and threats”.

The Tories finally agreed to include a specific offence in the Criminal Justice bill this year – but it was binned when Rishi Sunak called the snap election. Mr Starmer also said: “We also need to reverse this idea that anything under £200 that people steal is not going to be actionable.”

Keir Starmer spoke to shopworkers including Paula McGregor (third from right)

Keir Starmer spoke to shopworkers including Paula McGregor (third from right)

Ms McGregor later told The Mirror: “We get the same people coming. They tend to take the same thing. We’re not allowed to touch them so we are told it’s the security guards job. We just get abuse, sometimes they’ve got needles.” She said the abuse “does make you feel scared”, adding: “I have approached shoplifters – in the past – and you just get abuse. I’ve been called all sorts of things.”

Asked whether it took a toll on her and her colleagues, she said: “You go home and you think did they see your car I was driving? Are they going to follow me? Certain members of staff have had threats – ‘I’m going to wait outside for you’ and things like that. It’s not very nice, this is why we don’t get involved anymore”.

Ms McGregor, who has previously voted for different parties, said she would also vote Labour in two weeks’ time. She described Mr Starmer’s responses as “positive”, adding: “It’s nice that he’s here and he’s spoken to all of us. I think he’s changed a lot of our views. The people that have voted for different parties previously will probably get swayed”.

The Labour manifesto last week promised to create a new specific offence for assaults on shopworkers to protect them from “threats and violence”. It also said the party would “scrap the effective immunity for some shoplifting introduced by the Conservatives”.