The Charity Retail Association has called for stronger penalties for people who are abusive towards shops staff and volunteers.
Responding to a Home Office call for evidence on the extent of violence and abuse towards retail workers in England and Wales, the CRA said this was a growing problem in charity shops.
The umbrella body surveyed 64 of its charity retailer members, with a combined 3,703 shops, last year.
Almost a third said abuse towards staff and volunteers had increased in the previous two years, with over a third saying it had stayed the same and with the rest saying it had either reduced or they had no records.
Over half of charity retailers said violence without physical injury had increased of stayed the same in their shops over the previous two years.
And two in five charity retailers said violence with physical injury had increased, but the majority did not report any instances of this.
'Legislation must cover volunteers'
In its response to the Home Office, the CRA called for physical or verbal assaults on retail staff and volunteers to be considered an “aggravated offence”, attracting harsher penalties in the same way such an attack on NHS staff would.
However, it warned that an unintended consequence of such a law could be that it would only protect paid shop staff.
Matt Kelcher, CRA’s head of public affairs and research, said: “We believe that Britain’s 230,000 charity shop volunteers should receive the same protections as they broadly fulfil the same tasks on behalf of the state.
“Therefore, any new legislation should be specifically drafted to include these people.
“We are hopeful the government will take heed of our evidence and will implemented this simple change to help secure the future of our vital industry.”
The Home Office call for evidence closes this Friday.