Violence against community workers

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2017 Community Service Group Conference
9 November 2016

Conference notes the mounting evidence that violence against staff working for Community employers is a serious and growing problem. In October 2016, the BBC broadcast information gathered by ‘Inside Housing’ showing that seven out of ten workers from housing associations had been either physically or verbally abused in the preceding twelve months.

These appalling incidents include staff being punched, pushed and kicked. There were also reports of staff being threatened with a weapon and being held against their will.

In addition to these more extreme incidents, it is becoming clear that lower level violence and verbal abuse is becoming a routine part of the working lives of many of our Community members. The 2015 UNISON survey of members across the service group found that 48% had experienced an incident of violence or aggression at work in the previous two years, whilst 27% felt threatened by violence or aggression at work.

Conference believes that both verbal and physical abuse of workers is totally unacceptable and urgent action is needed to change this trend within the community and voluntary sector.

Conference calls on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1)Develop a “Violence at Work Charter” which sets out a series of interventions which community employers should make to reduce the number of violent incidents which staff are subjected to.

2)Include within the Charter such actions as: collecting and monitoring data on violent incidents, support pathways for victims, thorough risk assessments for staff being placed in vulnerable situations and training to ensure staff are aware of the appropriate way to deal with threatening situations.

3)Pilot a campaign for getting employers to sign up to the Charter in the housing association sector, then, in the longer-term, expand the campaign to cover all community employers.

4)Work with UNISON Labour Link and other stakeholders to gain political support for the Charter. This includes lobbying political parties in positions of power and influence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.