11 Council Staff A Week Victim Of Abuse

COUNCIL staff in Swansea have been subjected to more than a thousand incidents of threatening or violent behaviour in Swansea over the past two years.

According to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Plaid, hundreds of workers in Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire were also victims of abuse.

Across Swansea, there have been more than 1,000 incidents of actual assault, aggression and foul language for the financial years 2006/07 and 2007/08.

It means around 11 staff a week are victims of abuse.

One incident resulted in a fractured ear and another in bruising so serious it resulted in the staff member being absent for 28 days.

In 2006/07, 576 incidents were recorded and in 2007/08, 451 incidents were reported.

The figures released by Swansea Council reveal that most incidents of violence or the threat of violence occurred with staff working in the council’s social services department.

The figures given for Neath Port Talbot Council were yearly averages of 126 incidents of physical abuse and 74 of verbal abuse.

In Carmarthenshire, the figures for these years were 109 and 180.

Plaid AM for South Wales West, Bethan Jenkins, said: “It is appalling that public servants are subjected to violence and abuse while carrying out their job.

“Training is important to ensure that staff that deal with the public during their work have effective communication skills and are able to deal with difficult people.

“I understand that Swansea Council Prevention, Assessment & Management of Violence & Aggression (PAMOVA) give training to council staff. Everything possible must be done to protect staff from violence and threatening behaviour.

“There is no excuse for abusing a member of council staff, physically or verbally.

“The council did not have details of any prosecutions that resulted from these incidents, but I sincerely hope those who commit such crimes are brought to justice.”

A Swansea Council spokesman said: “The number of staff being injured by members of the public during their work is, thankfully, rare.

“However, the council does not tolerate any violence or abusive behaviour towards its staff. No-one deserves to be treated in an abusive, aggressive or violent way. Our staff provide important public services, often to vulnerable members of society, and deserve to work within a safe environment.

“Staff safety is of paramount concern, and we ensure those who come into contact with the public on a daily basis receive training on how to manage the risk of violence. We encourage staff to report such incidents, which are always investigated and appropriate steps taken, which may include calling in the police when necessary.”

The spokesman said that a risk assessment was carried out on the security of buildings and interview rooms.

He said: “The policy covers action to be taken during or following a violent incident, such as terminating an interview or discussion after a warning or pressing of a panic button. It directs the staff to accident/incident reporting procedures and highlights the requirement for training. It also offers support to staff via the in-house confidential counselling service.”