Date: 12 October 2007
Assaults on public service staff increase to 25,000 - UNISON
UNISON - Scotland's public service union - today released new
figures that reveal that assaults on Scotland's health and local
government staff over the last year have increased and require a
better co-ordinated approach.
In an update to the most comprehensive survey of violence against
public service workers in Scotland, the union has obtained figures
from Scotland's Local Authorities and Health Boards that show that
the level of violent attacks increased over the last year by over
2,000 bringing the figure to 25,157 compared with last years total
The union's survey was released at a Health and Safety Conference
at Stirling Royal infirmary today. UNISON also attacked the inconsistency
in the reporting of figures, and monitoring incidents, which it
said if anything had got worse in local government. UNISON requested
the figures through Freedom of Information.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser Policy said "These figures
show that - particularly in local government - employers are still
not taking the threat of violence to their staff seriously. All
the positive advertising campaigns in the world cannot have the
impact they should unless employers encourage reporting, collect
and monitor information on violent incidents. We highlighted this
problem last year, but if anything it seems to have got worse! -
in one case a local authority who could not provide figures from
the Education Department last year, could only provide figures from
the Education Department this year!! If no-one is adding up the
numbers, authorities can have no idea how many assaults are taking
place in any area."
In addition, UNISON is calling for the Emergency Workers Act to
be extended to cover other public service workers at risk, including
social workers, housing staff, traffic wardens, community safety
officers, community health and mental health workers.
Dave Watson said "The Government must extend the scope of the
Emergency Workers Act and maintain its effectiveness. We will be
making further representations to parliament, and if necessary,
a private members bill will be introduced to either amend the 2006
Act, or introduce a further bill."
The union is clear that the Government also needs to remind councils
and health boards that they should adopt effective monitoring and
share information on violent clients between departments, and between
authorities and boards.
Dave Watson said "From this conference UNISON is saying this level
of violence is unacceptable. Employers must: introduce preventative
measures; carry out risk assessments for all tasks; encourage reporting;
and collate the relevant statistics"
Notes for editors: the report - Violent Assaults on Public
service staff in Scotland and its follow-up survey is available
on the UNISONScotland website. www.unison-scotland.org.uk/safety/violencesurvey.pdf
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
Organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m) For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Policy) 07958 122409 (m) Chris
Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)