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Our open letter to the Minister for Police, signed by more than 55 business leaders and parliamentarians

Since we launched our Service with Respect campaign in July 2020 to highlight the alarming rise in abuse faced by customer service staff, we have gained over 260 organisational and parliamentary supporters.

One of the main successes of our initial campaign was a change in the law to protect customer-facing workers from abuse. A key factor in this was an open letter calling for action to end abuse of public-facing workers.

Recent research has shown, however, that abuse of customer service staff is still pervasive – more than a third of our public-facing staff have experienced hostility in the last six months.

This is why we have issued a second open letter, signed by more than 55 UK business leaders and cross-party parliamentarians, calling on the policing minister to ensure assaults on public service workers are recorded separately in police statistics. An abridged version of the open letter was published in The Daily Mail on 17th November 2023.

The aim of this letter was not only to raise awareness of the ongoing instances of abuse across all industry sectors, but to ensure that when these instances are reported to the police, there is a confidence that they will be recorded and acted on accordingly.

Read our open letter below, and find out more about how you can support Service with Respect here.

Open letter

14 November 2023

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Recording Assaults on Public Service Workers in Official Crime Statistics

Further to the response given by Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire, Chris Philp MP, on 1 September 2023, regarding the question tabled to parliament on whether the Government will take steps to categorise assaults on public service workers distinctly in the police recorded crime and outcomes statistics, we want to emphasise the urgency on taking action to address the status quo.

Mr Philp’s reply noted that currently, only assaults on Police and Emergency Workers have a separate classification within Home Office recorded crime statistics. However, we also note that retail thefts are recorded as well. Given the challenging climate the nation’s frontline workers currently face, there is a pressing need to record data relating to the abuse of other public service workers. These workers are providing vital services to society, but since the introduction of the Sentencing Act which, in part, makes assaults on public service workers an aggravated offence, abuse of workers is sadly continuing. Retail staff, hospitality workers, call centre agents, infrastructure installers, delivery drivers, banking staff, and many others who interact with the public on a daily basis need to know the Government is continuing to ensure it is driving down abuse of workers in their workplaces.

While it’s encouraging that Mr Philp’s response noted an ongoing review of the rules governing police-recorded crime in England and Wales, there is an urgent need to expedite this aspect of the review. Our data, corroborated by various other studies, highlights that over one third of public-facing workers have faced some form of hostility in the past six months. This impacts their productivity, leads to an increased number of sick days, resignations, and a consequent decline in the quality of public services and economic output of businesses big and small.

Understanding the scale and nature of this problem is a vital step toward mitigating it. With the right data, the police, businesses, and policymakers can better allocate resources, develop and evolve informed policies, and protect these essential workers.

We, along with a diverse coalition of business leaders and cross-party Parliamentarians, urge the Government to prioritise collecting and reporting on the number of incidents separately, along with their consequent prosecution outcomes. This will serve as a deterrent against assaulting public service workers by empowering victims to report incidents, confident that incidents they are involved in are officially recorded and acted upon.

Public service workers are the pillars of our society, often performing thankless tasks that are essential for community well-being. Let’s ensure their safety is a matter of national importance, beginning with its proper recognition in crime statistics.

Yours faithfully,

Jo Causon, CEO, The Institute of Customer Service

Co-signatories (Business Leaders):

Simon Roberts, CEO, Sainsbury’s
Tom Athron, CEO, Fortnum & Mason
Chris Pitt, CEO, first direct
Giles Hurley, CEO (UK & Ireland), Aldi
David Wood, CEO, Wickes
Nick Read, CEO, Post Office
Andy Wood OBE DL, CEO, Adnams Brewery
Paul Philpott, CEO, Kia
Graham Edwards OBE, CEO, Wales and West Utilities
Liv Garfield, CEO, Severn Trent
Ant Middle, CEO, Ageas
Giles Hawke, CEO, Celebrity Cruises
Louise Beardmore, CEO, United Utilities
Basil Scarsella, CEO, UK Power Networks
Heidi Mottram, CEO, Northumbrian Water
Jacqueline Starr, CEO, Rail Delivery Group
Neil Jones, CEO, Bobst
Jonathan Cowie, CEO, Plymouth Community Homes
Oke Eleazu, CEO, ManyPets
Rosemary Du Rose, CEO, Beyond Housing
Ruth Cooke, CEO, Green Square Accord
Pat McDonagh, CEO, Clarity
Lawrence Gosden, CEO, Southern Water
Angela Lockwood, CEO, North Star

Jeremy Hyams, Founder & Executive Chair, Claims Consortium Group
Steve Holiday, Chairman, CityFibre
Richard Pash, Chief Customer Officer, Zurich
David MacLeod OBE, Co-Founder, Engage for Success
Guy Jefferson, COO, Scottish Power Energy Networks
Jane Porter, COO, Optivo
Trafford Wilson, Executive Director of Customer Service, The Guinness Partnership
Andy Pymer, Executive Director, Finance & Regulation, Wessex Water
Eva Eisenschimmel, Group Chief Risk, Rep. & Sustainability Officer, Lowell Group
David Roberts, MD, NuHeat
Eric Leenders, MD, UK Finance
Jo Upward, MD, Platform Group
Paul Harris, MD, Curo
Chris Wright, MD, Nottingham Trams
Carla Thomas, Customer Experience Director, Openreach
Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director, TransPennine Express
Martyn Oakley, Customer Experience Director, Laithwaites Wine
Nigel Purveur, Director, NJP Management
Dr Peter Carter, Director, Independent Healthcare Consultant
Fran Rea, Director Customer of Service, NewDay
Catherine Rutter, Director Group Customer Inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group
John Ashmore, Director of Claims, Direct Line Group
Rebecca Clapham, Director Sales and Service, Direct Line Group
Nikki Juniper, Head of Security & Shrinkage, John Lewis Partnership

Co-signatories (Parliamentarians):

Philip Davies, MP (Con)
Esther McVey, MP (Con)
Baroness Bennett, (Green)
Olivia Blake, MP (Lab)
Steven Bonnar, MP (SNP)
Wera Hobhouse, MP (Lib)
Ian Paisely, MP (DUP)
Mohammad Yasin, MP (Lab)
Martyn Day, MP (SNP)
Charlotte Nichols, MP (Lab)
Grahame Morris, MP (Lab)

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