Assaults On Carers Soar
Carers and social workers in the north east are coming under attack while doing their jobs. On average nearly three members of staff are physically or verbally attacked in the North East every day. Union officials have criticised the figures, saying workers should not have to face violence.
The Chronicle obtained figures from all seven councils in our region showing how many of their social care staff had been attacked at work. Staff included are mental health workers, home carers, residential care workers, learning disabilities coordinators and child care workers
Attacks include sexual assaults, racist abuse, violence and intimidation. Workers were punched, kicked, bitten, scalded and hit by thrown objects. Some attacks were by people under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In many incidents police were called.
In Sunderland in 2005, four social workers were sexually assaulted. In Newcastle in 2004 one worker was threatened with a weapon. In North Tyneside in 2005, a residential care officer was butted and punched in the face, another was indecently assaulted. In one incident in Gateshead a worker was punched in the head by a member of the public after they had run over a service user she was with.
Unison spokesman Liz Twist said: “It should never be part of the job to face abuse at work. We need to step up efforts to ensure social and care staff are protected so they are able to do their job effectively. We can never give up trying to make things safer. When we talk about the NHS and violence towards workers we talk about a zero tolerance approach, and social services staff deserve as much respect. Any attack is one too many and we really have to get away from a mindset that says this is inevitable.”
Last October social worker and mum-of-three Claire Selwood, 36, was stabbed while at a special school.
Mrs Selwood, of Wensley Close, Ouston, near Chester-le-Street, was knifed at Glendene School, on Crawlaw Road, Easington Colliery, County Durham. She was visiting the school to take part in a meeting about a pupil, along with staff and the pupil’s family. She spent several days in intensive care at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Graham Burton, 40, of Hill Crescent, Murton, County Durham, was charged with attempting to murder Mrs Selwood and was remanded in custody.
Mental health charity worker Ashleigh Ewing, of Hebburn, was stabbed to death in May making house calls as part of her job. Ms Ewing, 22, was found in a house in Eighth Avenue, Heaton, Newcastle, after a man walked into a police station and said he had killed a woman. Graduate Ms Ewing had worked as a support assistant for the Sunderland-based national charity Mental Health Matters.
In May 2005 Jacob Robison, 45, of Cobbett Crescent, South Shields, was jailed for three months for groping a female social worker. Newcastle Crown Court heard Robison, who was also ordered to register as a sex offender for seven years, decided to humiliate her after a meeting he thought had gone badly. While she was on her way out of his home he tried to kiss her on the lips and fondled her bottom while they were together in the narrow hallway.
Judge Michael Cartlidge said: “Anybody who does what you did to a public servant is going to go to prison.”