Scotland

Public service worker attacks double over 10 years

Hospital ward Image copyright PA
Image caption The survey found that nurses experience four times the national average risk of assault

More than 40,000 violent assaults against public service workers in Scotland have been recorded in the past year, according to a Unison survey.

The union's annual Violence at Work Survey 2016 showed a rise of 20,000 to 40,000 violent assaults against public service and local authority workers.

The figures covered the period between 2006 and 2016.

Violent incidents within local authorities rose from 13,206 to 17,605 this year.

Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling reported significant increases.

Unison said the increase could not be explained by better awareness and reporting, and said violence against workers must be addressed by employers and the Scottish government.

Nurses experience four times the national average risk of assault while the figure for care workers is twice the national average.

'Swingeing cuts'

School assistants are also said to be suffering from high level assaults, mostly against females.

It was also found that 83% of workers surveyed from the voluntary sector said their employer regarded violence as part of the job.

Scott Donohue, chairman of Unison's health and safety committee, said: "Violence against public service workers has increased, with significant increases against local authority workers.

"We cannot ignore a doubling of the figures over 10 years.

"It is also reasonable to make the correlation between the swingeing cuts to councils and increase in violence to council workers."

He added: "Staff tell us if you have to wait longer, or the service you need is no longer available, or a support worker has less time to spent with a client, it's being taken out on those working face to face with the public.

"At very least, councils should fully implement the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives guidelines 2010, in order that we can make the level of violent assaults fall across Scotland."

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