CCTV footage of a woman flying into a rage and smashing bottles of wine in a Co-operative supermarket in Surrey after she was asked to follow the store's coronavirus regulations has emerged.
Surrey Police confirmed the incident took place on 12 May in the Co-op on the High Street of Lingfield, and they were called to reports of ongoing criminal damage at the store just after 12.30pm.
A video of the outburst, which was released by the Co-op this week, showed the angry customer shouting at supermarket staff and throwing various items around before pushing wine bottles off two shelves in the alcohol aisle onto the floor.
An employee at the store, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Metro that the enraged woman began screaming at her after she was asked to follow the store’s one-way system.
The woman “stormed up” to the protective screens placed in front of the tills to protect customers and employees from Covid-19, and “just flipped out, punching and kicking it”, said the worker. Then she headed for the alcohol aisle and proceeded to knock bottles off the shelves.
She then picked up a basket containing milk and eggs and threw it across the store before storming out.
A spokesperson for Surrey Police said in a statement: “A 41-year-old woman from Lingfield was arrested and given three conditional cautions for criminal damage and public order. A 61-year-old man from Godstone was also arrested in connection with the incident and given two community resolution orders for public order.
“Both of them have also been banned from entering the store.”
On Monday, the CEOs of 23 retailers signed a joint letter to Boris Johnson asking for legal protection for retail workers who face violence and aggression from customers.
It comes just before Labour MP Alex Norris is due to get a second reading of his private members bill titled ‘Assaults on Retail Workers’ on Friday.
The bill has been strongly supported by the Co-operative Group for the past two years as part of its own campaign to tackle retail violence, and calls on the government to create a new offence which would carry heavier penalties on those who abuse or attack shop workers when they are trying to enforce the law on age-restricted sales.
The joint letter to the prime minister also underlines support for the bill. The retail bosses wrote: “This united response from business leaders, trade unions and frontline workers should demonstrate the need for these additional protections.
“We believe there is a clear and broad-based consensus behind this Bill, and we ask that the government acts now to support this important bill and find time for it to pass through Parliament.”
Jo Whitfield, CEO of Co-Op Food, said: “Our nation’s shop workers are heroes and as important key workers, they have played a vital role in providing communities across the country with access to food, household goods, financial services, prescriptions and medication all the way through lockdown.
“It is simply not part of their job to face a torrent of verbal or physical abuse and we want the government to do their bit in introducing legislation that will make shop workers feel safer when they go to work.”