Assaulting a retail worker will be a standalone criminal offence, which has been welcomed by retailers.

This news comes as part of the government's new legislation designed to provide stronger protections for shopworkers.

The Co-op has praised the move, calling it a crucial step to help curb what has been a record year for retail crime.

The newly announced standalone offence means that those who attack or assault retail staff could face up to six months in prison, be subject to an unlimited fine, and potentially banned from the shop where the crime occurred.

If the offender breaches this prohibition, under a Criminal Behaviour Order, it may result in a maximum prison term of five years.

For particularly severe attacks resulting in grievous bodily harm, a life sentence is possible.

This development has been eagerly anticipated by the Co-op, which, along with its member-owners, has been actively campaigning for change in light of soaring levels of assaults against retail employees.

The retailer's commitment to reinforcing stricter controls over retail violence was highlighted in a compelling report commissioned by Co-op earlier this year.

Authored by City University of London’s Professor of Criminology, Emmeline Taylor, the report outlines a ten-point plan to combat repeated offences against communities and store workers.

The plan's core proposal, making attacks on retail workers a standalone offence, was hailed as a significant aspect of the Retail Crime Action Plan.

The UK Government's announcement resonates with the advancements made since the Action Plan's implementation to tackle crime, hostility, and intimidation in retail settings.

Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief executive of the Co-op, said: "This announcement will resonate with shopworkers the length and breadth of the country.

"It sends a strong and clear message to shopworkers that they have been listened to, and a warning to criminals that their unacceptable behaviour will no longer be tolerated."

Paul Gerrard, Co-op’s director of public affairs and campaigning, added that the Co-op anticipates these measures will significantly contribute to the safety of shop workers and the communities they serve.

Over the past few years, Co-op has dedicated more than £200million to improve the safety and security of its personnel and stores.

These investments include advanced technology like interactive CCTV, body-worn cameras, fortified kiosks, and undercover security teams to deter and address theft and violence.

These improved measures coupled with the newly announced law demonstrate a significant stride towards deterring retail violence.