A SCOTS shop owner has been left terrified after a series of abusive incidents towards his staff from underage teenagers.
Shiva Kumar claims that his staff have been undergoing a mass turnover after being barricaded in the shop, threatened and intimated after refusing to serve alcohol to children.
The shop owner from Haddington currently owns two shops in the high street with his wife, Shanthi, 51, but the couple now feel that they may need to sell their business due to the lack of safety for their staff.
The 52-year-old added that he has also been forced to hire local staff due to past employees even being threatened by teens at bus stops.
The kind-hearted businessman has now gone as far as providing accommodation for staff in an effort to prevent them from suffering abuse.
Despite previously calling the police, the retailer has now conceded that he feels it is a waste of time having been told by Police Scotland that it is a ‘low risk crime’.
This has left Shiva now forced to try and shelter his staff by himself as previously they would be verbally abused by children whilst waiting for buses back to their homes in Edinburgh.
Speaking today, Shiva said: “For the last 14 years, we have been running in Haddington.
“We usually see 13 or 14 years old trying to buy alcohol.
“Some of them are from a troubled background and the parents know about it but can’t do much because the law is strict.
“Some of the adults are actually buying the alcohol as well. I’d say around 30% of incidents are adults – especially on a hot summer’s day.
“We have a very strong buoyant system whereby we ask who [the adults] are buying for and we take down a description of the details.
“We then pass them on to the police but the worst part is when the police don’t turn up for at least a week because they think it’s a very low risk crime.
“The kids come, they congregate in teams of eight or 10. One person goes in, one will grab chocolates and one will go to the alcohol.
“Once you go and tell them to put the chocolates back they throw them or steal the alcohol and walk away.
“The underaged will come and break into our shop – they will block the entrance to the shop. They will intimidate the customers and won’t let them out.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy so staff have a right not to serve.
“The racial abuse is also bad – [teens] pull [staff’s] hands and ask them to hit them to get [the staff] to physically abuse them, just so they can call the police.
“We have a very high turnover of staff because they’re not safe, especially female staff. We currently have a new member of staff and we have told her to come in the morning and to leave by 4pm.
“None of the local people want to work [at the shops].
“At night, when my staff are at a bus stop at around 10pm, they will be going to take a bus to go back to Edinburgh and they feel intimidated because the teens start bullying them.”
Shiva also claims that he has now been asked by the police and the council to remove CCTV from Haddington’s high street.
He added: “We have stopped contacting the police in the last six months since they told us this is not a big crime.
“They say we shouldn’t be watching anyone on the High Street. We got a letter from the police and the council to remove the CCTV but we won’t because it’s our protection.
“We have become so resilient that we have come to the conclusion that calling the police won’t work.
“The country needs responsible retailers and people who can show resilience in selling alcohol to the right people.
“The warrants are very friendly to these kids – you’ve got to be strict on them. They say you need compassion but compassion and alcohol don’t mix.”