Attacks on Sunderland council staff more than double in recent years

The number of assaults on council staff have more than doubled in recent years, figures reveal.

Monday, 30th December 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Monday, 30th December 2019, 1:23 pm
There have been more than 200 incidents where a member of the public has assaulted a council worker

In the last four years, Sunderland City Council employees have been subject to 235 reports physical and verbal assaults by members of the public.

From teachers and cleaners to election staff and planning officers, 169 members of council staff have been assaulted while at work since the start of 2016.

And the amount of physical and verbal attacks has risen by 138% in recent years.

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Between January 1 to November 26, 2019, Sunderland City Council received 81 reports of assaults on staff members – more than double the 34 reports made in 2017.

In the last four years, there have been 54 physical assaults, 173 verbal attacks and eight cases which have been classified as other.

The city council says it takes assaults on staff ‘very seriously’ and that all incidents are closely monitored.

The figures, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted to Sunderland City Council, revealed there were 46 assaults in 2016; 34 in 2017; 74 in 2018; and 81 in 2019 – although this doesn’t include any assaults that took place from November 26 until the end of the year.

Council employees working in more than 70 different roles were subjected to attacks by members of the public while carrying out their job.

Among those assaulted include a senior practitioner, a deputy headteacher, a welfare rights officer, a catering assistant, homelessness reduction officer and a social worker.

The council says the ‘vast majority’ of assaults are unintended and are linked to service which provide care to vulnerable people.

Deputy Leader Councillor Michael Mordey: “The city council takes the issue of attacks on staff very seriously, closely monitors all incidents and takes necessary actions to ensure the safety of both customers and employees.

“The vast majority of assaults are unintended and associated with those key services that we provide to vulnerable people with complex needs.”

But city bosses said the spike was partly due to improved recording, which saw ‘members of the public’ and other ‘dangerous occurrences’ included in statistics for the first time.