Suzy Lamplugh Trust surveyed over 1,000 retail workers about their personal safety at work and, concerningly, 66% of respondents[i] stated that they had experienced violence or aggression in the workplace. Of those who gave details about their experiences, 83% reported receiving verbal abuse, but there was also a concerningly high incidence of other types of violence and aggression, including physical assault, verbal harassment, verbal threats and bullying.

These results highlight the ongoing personal safety risks that retail workers face and the need for employers to have comprehensive measures in place to assess and mitigate such risks. Suzy Lamplugh Trust works with a broad spectrum of organisations to implement a range of personal safety strategies. Today it is launching ‘Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety’ (see below) as part of its Stay Safe At Work campaign to help employers reduce the risk of violence and aggression in the workplace.

Despite the high rates of violence and aggression, fewer than 18% of respondents had received personal safety training in person or online, only 34% knew of a written personal safety policy and fewer still (21%) knew of clear reporting procedures for personal safety incidents.

Of those that responded,[ii] 27% said that having security staff on site was the most effective personal safety measure, followed by panic buttons (8.4%), personal safety training delivered in person (4.1%), having a written personal safety policy (3.9%) and body-worn cameras (3.3%).

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2017, between April 2016 and April 2017 24% of all violent incidents took place on work premises. The Health and Safety Executive states that in 2016/17, this equated to an estimated 1.3% of working adults being the victims of one or more violent incidents at work.

One survey respondent outlined the typical abuse experienced:

“I have been verbally abused a number of times on the shop floor, called names like ‘stupid’, ‘idiot’, ‘bitch’, usually just because we don't have certain products in stock or don't sell them. One customer was jabbing me in the arm because we'd stopped selling the eggs he liked. I've been pushed out of the way and rammed with trolleys instead of someone saying, ‘Excuse me, please’. Someone came up behind me and slammed his hands down on my shoulders so hard he bruised me.”

Another respondent stated:

“After 12 years of security work, I have been pushed, grabbed, elbowed, punched, dragged across a car park by a car, threatened with a knife, followed home on one occasion, sworn at, spat at and had death threats in person and via phone calls to my personal mobile phone.”

Rachel Griffin, chief executive of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, commented: 

‘These survey results illustrate that, despite measures being in place in some workplaces to reduce the risk of violence and aggression, many workers do not believe that these are sufficient to mitigate the risks they face. In some cases, staff are not aware of any personal safety measures being in place. This indicates an urgent need for employers to embed personal safety into workplace culture as a priority and to take steps outlined in Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety to help workers be safer and feel safer.’

Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety

  1. Embed a workplace personal safety culture
  • Employers should embed a culture of personal safety in their workplaces by ensuring regular consultation and dialogue with staff about the risks they face and the steps they would like to see implemented. This should counter any perceptions or acceptance by employees of violence and aggression being ‘part of the job’.
  1. Implement adequate risk assessments
  • Employers should prioritise risk assessment and mitigation for all employees and adhere to legislation and guidance setting out obligations for protecting the personal safety of staff.
  • Risk assessments should include specific consideration of lone workers as well as risks related to all specific environments that different staff work in, such as client’s/patient’s homes and remote locations etc. Employers should follow HSE guidance on risk assessments.[i]
  • Risk assessments should include consideration of all forms of violence, aggression and harassment, both online and offline. This should include stalking as well as any violence or harassment motivated by prejudice on the basis of a worker’s personal characteristics or perceived personal characteristics.
  • Risk assessments should include the impact of stress and mental health implications of violence and aggression at work.
  1. Provide adequate reporting procedures
  • Employers should provide access to reporting tools for all staff, including remote workers, to enable immediate and reactive reporting of all work-related personal safety incidents.
  1. Provide personal safety training
  • Employers should train all employees in preparing for and responding to personal safety risks.
  1. Implement a tracing system
    1.  Designated colleagues should always know each other’s whereabouts and contact details while they are working alone or on the front line. This should include checking in and out when arriving at and leaving an appointment or meeting, including out of normal office hours.
  2. Have a system in place for colleagues to covertly raise the alarm
  • Enable colleagues to alert the office in case of an emergency while working alone.
  • Where possible have discreet lone worker devices available.
  1. Have a clear procedure to follow if a colleague does not return or check in when expected
  2. Ensure colleagues share contact details of the person they are meeting
  • This should include the exact location and time
  1. Offer all staff a personal safety alarm
  2. Regularly consult on, update, inform staff and provide access to all personal safety measures available



 For survey results, please see

  • Ends –


For more information, please contact Saskia Garner on 07747611308.

Suzy Lamplugh Trust is the UK’s leading personal safety charity. Our vision is a society in which people are safer - and feel safer - from violence and aggression; we want people to be able to live life to the full. Suzy Lamplugh Trust was founded by Diana and Paul Lamplugh following the disappearance of their daughter Suzy, a young estate agent, in 1986. Since then, the Trust has pioneered personal safety as a life skill and a public policy priority.

[i] 982 people responded to the question, ‘Have you experienced violence or aggression in the workplace?’

[ii] 514 respondents answered the question, ‘Which of the personal safety measures in place in your workplace is most effective and why?’