More than 40,000 attacks on public sector staff for third year running – report

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Calls have been made to introduce tougher legislation to tackle violence against public sector workers, after staff reported more than 40,000 attacks for the third consecutive year.

Union Unison published figures which show employees have been subjected to 40,568 violent assaults over a 12-month period.

That follows 42,241 incidents last year and 41,166 reported in the 2016 survey.

Scott Donohoe, Unison health and safety committee chairman, said: “The massive scale of violence against public service workers – and those in the community and voluntary sector – has been at least partially revealed, with more than 40,000 reported assaults each year for the last three years.

“We support the extension of legislation covering violence at work to cover all workers engaged in delivering public services – and not just the emergency services.

“The Scottish Government must move to address this issue.

“We now need action by employers and stronger legislation, regulation and oversight by government to end the aggro. It really isn’t ‘part of the job’.”

The figures were being revealed by the union ahead of its health and safety seminar in Stirling on Friday.

Unison’s first survey of violence on public workers – in 2006 – returned figures of half the amount of the latest reports.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Attacks against our NHS staff are despicable and the perpetrators must be dealt with in the strongest possible terms.

“No-one should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work. We continue to encourage all NHS organisations to support criminal proceedings against anyone who assaults our staff.

“The Emergency Workers Act includes a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine, or both. In 2008 this government extended the act to include GPs and doctors, nurses and midwives working in the community.”

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