At Glasgow Sheriff Court, Topshop owners, Arcadia Group Ltd have been fined £450,000 after pleading guilty to a single charge under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974.
This was following a health and safety investigation by Environmental Health at Glasgow City Council into an injury of a 10-year- old girl at a Topshop store when part of a barrier fell on her head on 7 February 2017.
The investigation found that the company failed to ensure to ensure that a queue barrier was fixed to the floor or properly secured, between January 2016 and February 2017. Inquiries revealed that that barrier and a second that had been brought to the shop were both insecure and not attached to the floor properly and removed.
The schoolgirl was with her mother at Silverburn Shopping centre in Pollok, Glasgow, when a queue barrier she swung on landed on her. She was taken to the Royal Hospital for Children where she was found to have a skull fracture. This led to the girl, who is now aged 12, being hurt to her severe injury and permanent disfigurement.
The court heard the barriers were usually only used in “flagship stores” and the Silverburn shop was not in this category. They had been removed from the Argyle Street store in Glasgow city centre and moved to Silverburn at some stage between January and March 2016. But the court heard they had not been correctly installed.
Sheriff Paul Crozier described it as a “sad and serious incident”.
He said: “As a result of the company’s failings a 10-year-old suffered a severe injury and permanent disfigurement.”
However, he noted that the firm had “taken steps to make sure there is no repeat of that breach”.
The court heard that that the barrier – used to guide customers near the till area – was of a type usually used in “flagship” stores, and not ones such as Silverburn.
An Arcadia spokeswoman said: “The Arcadia Group remains saddened by the injury suffered by the young girl as a result of this incident and our thoughts are with her and her family.
“The health and safety of our customers and employees is of the utmost importance to us.
“The sheriff recognised that Arcadia has co-operated fully with Glasgow City Council and, at the first opportunity, pleaded guilty to a single charge brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
“Arcadia accepts that its system for the transfer of fittings between stores was not as robust as it should have been and this led to an unsecured fixture being present in the Silverburn store.
“We apologise unreservedly for this.”
A similar incident occurred in a Topshop store in Reading a week after, when a 10 year old died after a display queue barrier fell on his head on 13 February 2017. However, following a police investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided there is “not a realistic prospect” of conviction.
Following the decision by the CPS, the investigation now transfers to Reading Borough Council to consider action in respect of any Health and Safety offences that may have occurred.