Housing staff suffer thousands of assaults

More than 4,000 physical and verbal assaults on housing staff were reported in 2014 and at the beginning of 2015, it has been revealed.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg, as it’s believed that one in three staff admit to being assaulted but not reporting incidents.

The reported attacks have been made known through freedom of information disclosures by councils and a survey of the biggest housing associations.

Among the staff affected are those involved in housing association rent collection and maintenance.

The figure of 891 incidents recorded by landlords in the first three months of 2015 was slightly down from last year, but considerably up from 2013.

And under-reporting is distorting the statistics.

An anonymous survey of housing professionals by the magazine Inside Housing has revealed the high proportion not reporting all the times they have been assaulted.

UNISON’s John Gray, a National Executive Committee member for the community and voluntary sector, said: “There’s a cultural problem here. Staff feel that if they put in a complaint about a resident they will get the blame themselves for causing the problem.

“But it’s a good bet that if a resident is threatening staff, they are also threatening their neighbours. This is not a good way to keep anyone safe.”

UNISON’s own 2013 survey of its housing association members found that 44% had experienced an incident of violence or aggression at work since 2010, while 28% felt threatened by such incidents.

Overall in the community and voluntary sector (not just HAs), 64% of violent incidents involved service users, and 20% colleagues – mostly managers.