The retailer is reinforcing its message that violence and aggression towards staff will ‘not be tolerated’ after a shoplifter was said to have attacked an off-duty worker at the Birmingham Road store in an unprovoked attacked after recognising the colleague when leaving the store.
The staff member involved was assessed by paramedics following the incident on Friday, November 12, and did not need to attend hospital.
The team at the store who witnessed the attack were said to have been shaken by the ordeal and are supporting police with their investigation.
Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Everyone at Central England Co-op has been shocked and appalled at this unacceptable incident in Sutton Coldfield where our colleague was attacked while off-duty.
“We are thankful they escaped with just minor injuries as the nature of the attack could easily have led to much more serious injuries.
“We strongly condemn any form of abuse or violence towards our colleagues and are offering our full support to the entire team at the Birmingham Road store. We are 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 are sending a clear message out to anyone who might consider targeting our colleagues and stores – it is not worth the risk and no crime will be tolerated.”
The incident comes as Central England are asking shoppers to treat colleagues with respect as part of a fortnight of national campaigns aimed at highlighting the issue of shopworker safety.
The Shopkind winter campaign, which runs from this week, is based on the theme of ‘Tis the season to be #ShopKind’.
The aim of the campaign is to recognise the sacrifice of shopworkers at Christmas time and highlight the importance of thanking them and respecting them.
Recent figures from Central England Co-op showed that nearly 12,000 incidents have been reported so far this year including 81 assaults, 959 cases of verbal abuse and threats, 307 anti-social behaviour reports and 160 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.
Recently, Central England Co-op has rolled out a range of different measures including security assistance buttons and using tracking devices in more products to deter would-be thieves.
It has just announced the roll out of colleague body cameras to over 50 stores following a successful trial designed to keep staff safe and help drive down crime in stores.
The retailer has also been working with other major retailers, unions, industry bodies, police and crime commissioners and over 200 MPs to push the Government to crackdown further on those who abuse or attack shopworkers via the introduction of tougher penalties such as an automatic prison term.
A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: "We’re investigating after a shop worker was assaulted outside Co-Op in Sutton Coldfield on Friday 12 November.
"At around 7.45am, three men entered the shop and stole some wine. When challenged, they assaulted the shop worker and ran off down Chester Road.
"Anyone with information on the incident is asked to get in touch via Live Chat on our website quoting crime reference 20/187836/21."