SHOP workers have faced a “shocking” rise in attacks, abuse and intimidation, figures show.

Offences recorded in stores across Sussex rose by 32 per cent in just one year, sparking calls for a crackdown.

One retailer reported 7,000 offences and incidents happening in the past three months and there are fears it will get worse again as the coronavirus lockdown eases.

Tesco’s Sussex area manager Danny Molloy said there was a sharp rise in the number of workers being spat at and assaulted, with prolific offenders like shoplifters often causing the most problems.

He said: “As the lockdown eases, we are also expecting to see an increase in shoplifting and with that will come even more violence and threatening behaviour.

“As a local retailer we will be looking to share our data more widely and report more incidents to the police who I have been reassured will take action.

“We have seen an increase in colleagues assaulted and spat at recently. The prolific offenders causing problems for us before have just got worse.”

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His comments came as it was revealed there were 483 incidents reported to Sussex Police between April 2019 and March 2020. It was a rise of 156 reports on the same period a year before.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne organised a meeting to address the fears raised and set up the Safer Sussex Business Partnership.

She has spoken with small and large retailers and believes crimes are still vastly under reported.

It is having “huge impacts” on victims and the community and she noted stores in Sussex have reported “horrific rises” in abuse and violence.

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Mrs Bourne said she wants to find ways to tackle the problem and crack down on offenders.

She said: “These figures are shocking so I’m pleased that, today, we started to identify better ways of sharing data and creating clearer communication channels.

“This pandemic has shown how important our local businesses and their staff are to our communities. Intimidation, verbal abuse and violence of any kind against shopworkers cannot be tolerated.”

Mrs Bourne hopes that more police officers being recruited will allow more patrols and intelligence to be gathered to stop criminals.

Newly appointed Chief Constable Jo Shiner pledged her commitment to tackling business crime and said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that members of our community are being targeted in this way, just for carrying out their job.