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Shop staff assault to be specific criminal offence

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Assaulting a shop worker will be made a separate criminal offence in England and Wales as part of a government response to a wave of retail crime. 
Earlier this year a report found violent and abusive incidents against shop workers rose by 50% in 2022-23.
Rishi Sunak said shops must be free from the threat of crime or abuse.
The government previously told campaigners for a new law it was not needed and would not be effective.
But the government says it is concerned about an increase in attacks. The prime minister said the new law was about "sending a message" to criminals stealing from local businesses or abusing shop workers that "enough is enough".
Helen Dickinson, chair of the British Retail Consortium, welcomed the announcement, saying "the voices of the three million people working in retail are finally being heard".
The new offence will carry a maximum sentence of six months.
Perpetrators could also receive an unlimited fine and be banned from the shop where they committed the offence.
Serial offenders could be forced to wear tags so their movements can be tracked and £50m will be spent on facial recognition technology.
Dedicated facial recognition units will be used in high streets to catch perpetrators and prevent shoplifting. Police have been told to check more CCTV images against police databases. 
In more serious cases, offenders found guilty of grievous bodily harm will face jail sentences.
But anyone convicted of the new offence would not routinely go to prison.
The Sentencing Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, would mean sentences of 12 months or less would be suspended and served in the community, although a prison sentence could be imposed in exceptional circumstances.
The government has promised reforms to free up prison space in response to overcrowding due to tougher sentences and court backlogs.
The announcement comes as Labour's shadow chancellor Yvette Cooper and other senior party figures are on a local election campaign visit to Tees Valley to promote the party's polices to revive high streets.
Labour is promising neighbourhood police patrols to tackle anti-social behaviour and shoplifting, as well as plans to bring empty premises back into use.
Creating a new specific offence of assault against shop workers is already Labour policy.
Ms Cooper said: "Labour has been calling for tougher action against those who assault shop workers for more than 10 years.
"The Tories opposed and voted against our plans for better protection. Why has it taken them so long to act?"
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: "As the majority of shoplifting cases go unsolved, the Conservatives has repeatedly failed to get even the basics right of tackling this issue – something their new gimmicks won't change."
The government will introduce the new offence in its Criminal Justice Bill, currently being considered by Parliament.
Assault or abuse of staff has been a specific offence in Scotland since 2021.
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