With 70% of shop workers in Scotland saying they have been verbally abused in the last year, 42% saying they had been threatened and 4% being assaulted, according to the Glasgow-based Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw)'s recently released "Freedom From Fear" survey, the need for a law being implemented for the safety of shop staff is greater than ever.

Daniel Johnson, a Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern announced he is launching a consultation to create new offences around the abuse of workers who sell age-restricted items such as alcohol and cigarettes, as he visited a ScotMid store in the capital city.

He also said instances of abuse towards retail workers have become “too commonplace” and regarded as "part of the job" after figures from the Usdaw survey revealed last month that abuse and violence against them are at a 10-year high.

What causes this sort of violence?

There has been a 40% increase in disturbances of such nature; figures from the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) show with the refusal of sale and challenging for ID are consistently among the main triggers for incidents of abuse in-store.

Although usually related to alcohol and cigarettes, Scotland also has age-restricted sales of fireworks, knives and solvents amongst others for those under the age of 18 which can be the catalysts for the abuse.

How many cases have there been recently?

The abuse is also increasingly violent, with several armed robberies taking place throughout the country.

In December, three masked men threatened a retail worker with knives and an axe during a robbery in Law, Lanarkshire and are also believed to be responsible for other robberies across shops, businesses, sports clubs and a home throughout West Lothian.

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In early January, a shopkeeper called Shahzad Butt was forced to fight off a knife-wielding robber with a badminton racquet in Dalkeith, Midlothian.

Last week a masked individual threatened staff at a shop and post office in Kinglassie, Fife although nobody was hurt.

More recently, a man brandished a blade at staff in a shop in Aberdeen and stole hundreds of pounds while a man, once again armed with a knife, demanded cash and cigarettes from an Esso garage retail assistant in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire.

Additionally, two women have also been charged with armed robbery on Princes Street in Edinburgh city centre while there was another robbery at a shop and post office in the West End of Glasgow after he threatened a staff member and demanded cash.

However, in arguably the most tragic case yet, a 71-year-old man died after running to the aid of his wife who was being robbed at a shop in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.

What will happen now?

The consultation will run for twelve weeks and the responses which are being encouraged to come from workers and customers alike will be scrutinised by Scottish Parliament to create an informed draft Private Members Bill.

Usdaw, the Scottish Grocers' Federation and retailer Scotmid are all backing the plan and hopefully, we will see greater legal protection available for shopkeepers and retail workers soon as at the moment, we have only seen two cases of arrests from all the instances mentioned above.