Shopkeepers say they fear abuse by customers after a worker was attacked when he demanded identification in two separate incidents within an hour.

The shopkeeper at Great Cash Deals, in Highbridge Street, Waltham Abbey, was assaulted at 4.30pm on Sunday by a teenager, leaving him with leg and facial injuries.

The Slovakian shopkeeper had asked for identification before selling a packet of cigarettes, but unhappy with the shopkeeeper's request, a group of youths started to cause a nauisance outside the shop front.

The shopkeeper went outside to deal with the problem but was subsequently dragged to the floor by one the teenagers.  

About an hour later, the same man was punched in the face by the father of the teenager.

Police have made no arrests.

Other newsagents in the street today said they have been regularly threatened by customers who will not provide proof of age when buying restricted goods.

Mohammed Perwaiz, owner of RP Sweet News, said: “A teenager came in recently asking for cigarettes without ID, saying he was 19.

“He tried to threaten me, but his father came in a bit later to buy them for him and said his son was 18.

“You cannot trust people.”

The shopkeeper of Great Cash Deals took over the shop in October, but has had his windows recently smashed.

Owner of Abbey Off-licence, Ray Morrell, said: “There’s an attitude to eastern Europeans that they’ve stolen our jobs.

“He is still learning the language, so he can seem a bit abrupt but he is just a hard-working man trying to make a living. What’s to stop me being the next person they pick on?

“You have to learn the trade here very quickly. People will threaten you and it’s tempting to react but we are always going to be here in the shop, we’re like a sitting target.”

The owner of Jays Newsagents, who asked not to be named, said: “We get abused all the time, it’s just the reality.

“We are just trying to abide by the law, but these people are never punished so there is no protection for people like us, or anyone selling cigarettes or alcohol. I am worried because you don’t want it to happen to you.”