Assaults on staff in Woolworths stores have risen “significantly” since last year, with team members being threatened and abused in broad daylight, Woolworths New Zealand says.

According to new data from the supermarket giant, released today, there have been 925 acts of violence and aggression in Woolworths stores in the last year, up from 848 the previous year – a 9% increase.

Physical assaults have had a particularly notable increase, rising to 329 incidents in the past 12 months compared to 219 in the previous year – up 50%.

However, it also saw a reduction in the use of weapons, dropping 22% on the previous year, Woolworths NZ said.

Woolworths NZ director of stores, Jason Stockill, said team members being assaulted is “unacceptable”, adding that while new security measures have had a positive effect, more needs to be done.

The grocery chain is now rolling out a raft of security and safety measures in its stores.

The three-year investment programme – at the cost of $45 million – will see team safety cameras installed in all stores, trolley lock systems, fog cannons, double-entry gates, and anti-sweep shelving.

Further security measures under consideration include duress alarms for team members working in isolated locations.

“Our team is being threatened and hurt in broad daylight, and despite offenders being arrested and going through the justice system, they’re coming back and doing it again,” Stockill said.

“We’ve been pleased to see the focus on law and order and look forward to working with the Government further this quarter.

“Our responsibility is to keep our team and customers safe in our stores, and we’re investing in a range of security measures to help with that, but we can’t do it alone. We need continued collaborative action across Government, agency, and industry.”

Woolworths New Zealand is now asking for consideration of a similar system to Australian Workplace Protection Orders and improvements to trespass law for retail businesses.