Violence at work: findings from the British crime survey says between 1994 and 1998, 3.2% of local and national government administrators and managers had been assaulted and 4.4% had been threatened. The national average is 1.2% and 1.5%.
They were particularly at risk if they worked in benefits offices or housing departments, the survey added.
It also shows that, in the public sector, social workers are second only to the police force for the threats and assaults suffered in the course of their work. Between 1994 and 1998 9.4% had suffered assaults and 9.5% had been threatened.
Shadow home secretary Ann Widdicombe said that although the offence would not carry heavier sentences than existing assault legislation, it would send a message that assaults on public servants in the course of their work would not be tolerated.
'There has grown up a view that it is really just an occupational hazard, something you have to endure in the course of your work. The worst case was the planning officer shot dead for simply doing a bit of planning a few years ago.'
She said stiffer penalties were not viable because a person who 'ran amok' in a casualty unit could receive heavier sentences for injuring staff than patients.
'That would sent out a message that staff are more important.'