Date Wednesday 13 Sept
22,000 assaults on public service staff need broader response
UNISON - Scotland's public service union - today said that new
figures reveal that assaults on Scotland's health and local government
staff over the last three years show no evidence of decline and
require a better co-ordinated approach.
The union has obtained figures from Scotland's Local Authorities
and Health Boards that show that the level of violent attacks on
Scotland's public servants has remained more or less constant over
the last three years - running between around 20,000 (2003), 22,500
(2004) and 21,500(2005).
The union's survey is probably the most comprehensive that has
yet been compiled, and was released at a Health and Safety Conference
at Stirling Royal infirmary today. The union attacked the inconsistency
in the reporting of these figures, and monitoring incidents, which
it said was particularly bad in local government.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser Policy said "These figures
show that until we can get employers to take the threat of violence
to their staff seriously, all the positive advertising campaigns
in the world cannot have the impact they should. The quality of
the information is inconsistent especially in local government,
but also in health. This means that it is difficult to monitor attacks
and to compare like with like. In some cases they did not even appear
to add up the numbers of incidents. If no-one is adding up the numbers,
authorities can have no idea how many assaults are taking place
in any area.”
UNISON requested the figures and copies of any policies that authorities
had in a Freedom of Information request, earlier this year. The
union is clear that the Executive needs to remind councils and health
boards that they should adopt effective monitoring and share information
on violent clients between departments, and between authorities
Dave Watson said "UNISON is calling for the following plan of
action to address these problems:
1. Maintain awareness campaigns. This includes the Scottish Executive
campaign supplemented by employer level training and communication.
2. Ensure policy implementation in the workplace. This means ensuring
that every employer has a policy, that it has been recently reviewed
and, most importantly, implemented in practice.
3. Effective monitoring of violence. Ensuring that employers don't
just collect statistics but that they are used to inform safety
strategies. That statistics should be collated in a common format
to ensure that wider lessons can be learned.
4. Maintain civil and Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (CICA)
remedies. Resisting the Home Office/SE proposals to remove large
numbers of claims from the CICA. To maximise the use other civil
remedies as a further deterrent.
5. Strengthen criminal law. Extend the scope of the Emergency Workers
Act and maintain its effectiveness.”
Notes for editors: the report - Violent Assaults on Public service
staff in Scotland is available on the UNISONScotland website
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
Organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)