Statutory Protection for Retail Workers in Scotland

Date01 October 2021
Published date01 October 2021
Subject MatterComment
Statutory Protection for Retail
Workers in Scotland
Robert Shiels
Solicitor in Scotland, UK
The Scottish Parliament has passed an Act making provision for the statutory protection for
retail workers, and that law includes the creation of a new offence. The provision is said to be
necessary as the retail workers are subjected to criminal conduct when required to ask for
proof of age. That request resulted, it is said, in the retail workers at that point acting in the
public interest.
Statutory offence, retail workers, duty to inquire, right to protection
The Scottish Parliament has passed legislation, the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-Restricted
Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 (asp 6), to protect retail workers and in doing so raised a
number of questions of general interest beyond the jurisdiction of Scotland.
The new legislation brings
to mind similar provision in regard to emergency workers as a specified group with their own
Before considering the terms of the short statute, one point of Scottish practice might be noted.
Crimes at common law tend to be comparatively few in number but in drafting a charge a prosecutor
would be required to give fair notice of that crime along with any aggravating factors, thus theft from a
shop would be drafted and recorded as theft by shoplifting. The accused would by that means be put on
notice of the alleged facts of the case to be met or accepted.
The aggravation indicated accentuates the
Corresponding author:
Robert Shiels, Solicitor in Scotland, SSC Library, Parliament House, Edinburgh, EH1 1RF, UK.
1. Hereafter, ‘the 2021 Act’. The provision began as a Member’s Bill, having been introduced by Daniel Johnson MSP who has
experience of working in the retail trade.
2. Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 (asp 2), hereafter, ‘the 2005 Act’.
3. It seems likely that English-trained lawyers would say that the traditional Scottish practice merely pleads evidence but, frankly,
that is the point. In order that an accused can read, or in the long distant past could have read to him or her if necessary, the
precise limits of the case as determined by the public prosecutor in drafting the description of how the crime or offence was
committed was essential.
The Journal of Criminal Law
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00220183211020848
2021, Vol. 85(5) 388–393

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