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‘Shock’ as thousands of council staff physically and verbally assaulted over three years

Perth and Kinross Council.
Perth and Kinross Council.

Thousands of Perth and Kinross Council staff faced assaults in just three years, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted to the local authority revealed that more than 2,500 staff were physically assaulted between April 2018 and March 2021.

Meanwhile, around 270 council staff were verbally abused in the same timeframe.

Each year, the number of both physical and verbal abuse directed at education and children’s service staff far exceeded the figures for staff in other council areas.

Thousands of council staff have been assaulted.

Of the physical assaults during the three-year period, those aimed at education staff totalled more than 2,480.

Meanwhile, 160 of the verbal assaults were directed at education staff.

‘The right to work in a safe environment’

A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said: “Our staff have the right to work in a safe environment, and their safety and welfare when at work is a priority for us.

“The great majority of interactions they have with service users and the public are positive and we continue to work with staff representatives, schools and services to improve measures to prevent incidents.

Perth and Kinross Council.

“We have a range of guidance in place for our employees across council services, and any incident of assault reported to us will be investigated, support will be offered and action taken as appropriate.”

They added: “Incidents classed as ‘physical assault’ capture a wide range of behaviour, and in relation to our schools less than 1% of the pupil population is involved in incidents towards staff members.”

‘Utterly shocking’

The response to the FOI – submitted by the Scottish Conservatives – has been described as “utterly shocking”.

Liz Smith MSP, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “The extremely high number of physical assaults on Perth and Kinross Council staff is utterly shocking.

“This total really beggars belief.

“The number of assaults fell during the pandemic, as you would expect, but there were still 355 physical attacks and 22 incidents of verbal abuse directed at employees working in the education and children’s services department during this time.”

She added: “Local authority frontline staff should not be subjected to any physical or verbal assault. They are carrying out their job and trying to help the public.

“They don’t deserve to be treated in this way.”

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