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Countdown contacted Police Minister prior to Dunedin attack over concerns around growing violence towards staff

Police Minister Poto Williams declined to meet with Countdown executives who were concerned about violence toward their staff prior to yesterday’s stabbing attack in Dunedin.

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The supermarket is now looking at new ways to protect workers. Source: 1 NEWS

The attack in a Dunedin supermarket yesterday afternoon resulted in four people being hospitalised with stab wounds after a man randomly went on a violent rampage at the store.

The attack, described as the company's worst nightmare has reignited concerns of rising incidents of violence towards supermarket workers.

Countdown says its staff receive verbal abuse, racial slurs and homophobic comments daily and more needs to be done to stop it.

The supermarket chain says aggression towards staff has been increasing since the country first went into lockdown last year.

Countdown was so concerned it wrote to the Police Minister asking for a meeting to discuss the problem, a request she declined, suggesting the company get in touch with police.

“Police are in the first instance the most appropriate agency to be working with to get advice around issues of safety and significant safety concerns that Countdown have with their staff,” Williams said.

Police find a number of knives as investigation into Dunedin Countdown stabbings continues

A meeting between police and Countdown was organised for this Friday and it's still going ahead but yesterday's attack has forced talks at a local level.

“Today we had a meeting with Countdown executives and local managers. I have a team here working on a community impact plan and our work with Countdown will form part of our community impact plan,” Southern District commander superintendent Paul Basham said to media today.

Today, a trauma centre was set up at a local hotel with specialists available to help those get help after the harrowing incident.

“This is not a one-day thing to recover from, it'll take a long time, particularly for our team in the hospital and their families,” Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s GM for corporate affairs, said.

“You don't go to work to get stabbed.”

Meanwhile, the supermarket is considering body cams for workers for security, a measure that is proving successful in trials in Australia.