Over January and February, there has been an increase in abuse/aggressive behaviour from post office customers – with the average number of weekly incidents reaching almost double the average in December.
The majority of these cases have involved verbal abuse, however, there have also been reports of physical abuse and spitting.
If you encounter any aggressive behaviour in your post office, you are encouraged to report it to Grapevine, who will then escalate the incident to the Post Office Ltd (PO) Security Team to provide you with extra help and support.
To register with Grapevine, please visit www.grapevine.co.uk or call 0345 603 4004.
PO has produced the following guidance to help you and your staff deal with difficult customers.
Dealing with aggressive customers - guidance from PO's Security Team
Prioritise your safety
- Firstly, and most importantly, you should always prioritise your own safety – nothing you sell is worth risking your safety over and you cannot protect others unless you protect yourself;
- If you are concerned about your personal safety, use your panic alarm or ring 999 to get an emergency police response.
Customer facing posters
- At the start of COVID, we distributed customer-facing posters reminding customers that violence and abuse towards staff will not be tolerated. We hope the poster acts as a reminder to customers of how they should behave when in your premises. If you require more posters, they are also available for local printing on the One website.
Challenging shop thieves
- The best way to prevent shop theft is by being attentive, meeting and greeting all customers as they enter the store, so that potential thieves know you are watching them.
- Ensure that you put your own safety first. Keep a safe distance when engaging with potential shop thieves.
Enforcing Age Restricted Sales and face coverings
- Deflect – move the blame onto the law and government guidelines by explaining that retailers are required to ask.
- Flattery – be complimentary, for example, by telling the customer they look good for their age.
- Be constructive – help the customer understand what ID they need.
Refusing to Serve Intoxicated Persons
- If you have to refuse to serve a customer who is drunk, stay calm and polite.
- For example, say “sorry we cannot serve you today” – do not say that they are drunk.
- If they become aggressive, keep at least an arms-length distance between you and the customer and seek help from other colleagues.
PO continue to work with the British Retail Consortium, the Home Office, the Police and the National Business Crime Centre to ensure that violence and abuse against retail staff is a higher priority within Government and policing.