Tesco employees have been offered the chance to wear body cameras when on shift due to a significant rise in physical assaults, the supermarket's chief executive said.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ken Murphy said the abuse had increased by a third in a year.

He explained: “The British Retail Consortium found that incidents of violence and abuse against retail workers almost doubled from more than 450 per day in 2019-20 to more than 850 last year. At Tesco, physical assaults are up by a third on this time last year.”

To combat the issue, Mr Murphy said that Tesco is “doing their bit” by investing £44 million over the last four years on security measures, “such as door access systems, protection screens and digital radios.”

“We’ve also rolled out body-worn cameras for colleagues that need them in order to deter offenders,” he added in the column.

Tesco chief executive says ‘abuse or violence towards retail workers should be made an offence in itself’

Saying it's “time we put an end to it”, Mr Murphy labelled the rise in incidents as “unacceptable” and the impact on workers “heartbreaking”.

“I want those who break the law in our stores brought to book,” he said.

“After a long campaign by retailers and the union Usdaw, last year the government made attacking shop workers an aggravating factor in convictions – meaning offenders should get longer sentences.

“Judges should make use of this power. But we need to go further, as in Scotland, and make abuse or violence towards retail workers an offence in itself.”

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He also called for better links with police forces and for businesses to be given a right to know how a case is proceeding when someone commits a crime in one of their stores.

“This would help us to spot patterns and provide reassurance that justice is being done,” he said.

“Gangs take advantage of the fact we do not share enough information. We’ll only be able to stop these thugs if we work together.”