Police called to more incidents between retail workers and abusive customers


New data from leading employee health, wellbeing and safety platform, Sonder, shows police were involved in 23% of critical incidents for their customers in the quarter from April - June 2023 - an increase of 35% from the previous quarter.

The anonymised data is collected from the thousands of incidents across Sonder’s customer network.

Craig Cowdrey, Sonder CEO, said “Each week our technology-enabled, professional care team and on-the-ground responders actively support cases involving physical aggression, harassment, violence, assault, and sexual abuse.

“Sadly our latest data shows 42% of our critical incidents were primarily safety-related, a 5% increase from last quarter. This worrying trend is something the NSW Government is trying to curb with reforms to a bill introduced into parliament in June.”

“The reforms to The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Retail Workers) Bill cover a range of offences, including assaulting, harassing, intimidating, or throwing an object at someone in the course of their duties. We believe these reforms are timely as our data shows these forms of assault have been on the rise in the last few months.”

“When these critical incidents are reported through the Sonder app, our dedicated nationwide team of in-person responders, typically emergency-services-trained personnel, will support the retail worker to manage the situation which can include calling the police or a security team and safely removing workers from harm's way. These incidents can have a prolonged impact on employees who are often young people that need both mental and physical support after the incident,” Craig said.

Sonder’s data shows the top five categories for police incidents they assisted with were:

  1. Assault by a customer
  2. Attempted suicide by a customer
  3. Attempted suicide by a member
  4. Customer death on site
  5. Armed robbery

“How safe people feel, both in and out of the workplace, directly impacts employee wellbeing, engagement and productivity, which ultimately impacts how a business performs. Workers deserve the right to feel supported and safe when they are working. We are passionate about helping workers increase their sense of control and reduce their level of risk by focussing on Sonder’s readiness to respond and giving workers the knowledge of how to access support,” Craig added.


- Ends –


About Sonder: Sonder is an Active Care technology company that helps organisations improve the wellbeing of their people so they perform at their best. Our mobile app provides immediate, 24/7 support from a team of safety, medical, and mental health professionals - plus onsite help for time-sensitive scenarios. Accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS), our platform gives leaders the insights they need to act on tomorrow's wellbeing challenges today.

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