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UNISON CONDEMNS PROBLEM OF PUBLIC VIOLENCE AGAINST STAFF

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Unison has criticised employers for ignoring their responsibility to protect staff from violence. The union represe...
Unison has criticised employers for ignoring their responsibility to protect staff from violence. The union represented 270 local government staff in criminal injuries cases in the first half of this year.

Unison has published a risk prevention guide for its officers, Violence at work, covering risk factors and assessment, preventative measures and the union's role in helping staff.

According to union figures, 270 criminal injuries compensation cases were handled for local government members between January and July this year. The North Western region was the worst with 46 cases, followed by the West Midlands with 42 cases. The next highest region was Yorkshire and Humberside with 28.

Deputy general secretary Dave Prentis said staff cuts meant many workers were in increasing isolation, and when local government offices lacked a human face, staff were left to bear the brunt of threats and abuse from angry members of the public.

'For too long this legal responsibility has been ignored or minimised by employers and some employees have died; others have suffered injury and many face a daily dose of violent behaviour,' he said.

Staff most at risk were those who handled drugs, dealt with distressed or potentially angry people, handled money, worked alone or had a lot of contact with the public.

Unison social services national officer John Findley said the union wanted to develop better guidelines with employers to minimise risk and provide maximum protection for members.

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