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'Totally unacceptable': Rise in attacks on council staff slammed

The majority of assaults were against residential care workers, support workers, teachers and teaching assistants Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The majority of assaults were against residential care workers, support workers, teachers and teaching assistants Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Leaders at Suffolk County Council said it was "disheartening" to see 154 reports of physical attacks or abuse against its staff in 2019 - the same figure as in the whole of 2016.

Suffolk County Council offices, Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANTSuffolk County Council offices, Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANT

In 2017, the number of reported incidents had risen to 195 and further increased in 2018 to 217.

The number of verbal assaults and abuse against staff appears to have reduced over the three-year period, dropping from 24 in 2016 to just 10 last year.

However, there have already been 19 reports of verbal abuse or assaults on council staff this year already.

The vast majority of recorded incidents were against residential child care workers, home first support workers, children's support practitioners, teachers and teaching assistants.

Sue Cook, executive director for people's services at Suffolk County Council, said the authority takes a "zero tolerance" attitude to all abuse and that the increase in reported physical assaults may be down to the council's improved system of recording such incidents.

She said that any abuse directed at staff is "totally unacceptable", adding the council was "disheartened" by the number of reported incidents.

She said: "We take any incident of assault against our staff incredibly seriously, whether that's verbal or physical abuse.

"Our staff have the right to come to work without fear of violence, abuse or harassment. There is no excuse and no justification for abusing those who go to work to help people and we have a 'zero tolerance' attitude to all abuse.

"We have recently refocused our efforts on improving the way we record assaults so we can get a clearer picture of the types of incidents experienced by our staff and service users.

"This improvement has led to higher numbers being reported - it doesn't necessarily mean that the actual number has increased. We're just better at recording them now.

"While this improved reporting system gives us a truer picture, we remain disheartened by the numbers.

"Any abuse is totally unacceptable and we will continue in our efforts to protect all of our staff and service users."

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