Violence at work

Recently published figures from the British Crime Survey show a 10% increase in the number of physical assaults in the workplace and that those working in what are known as protective service occupations are nearly twice as likely to be assaulted, than those working in other sectors.

The headline findings from the report show a total of 6,078 injuries caused by violence in the workplace and number of estimated threats at 313,000, and the number of physical assaults at 341, 000. The number of people having experienced repeat incidents at work remained at 43%.

Respondents in protective service occupations, such as security guards, police and prison officers, were most at risk. However care assistants, home care workers, teachers, nurses and drivers also had high rates. The data for protective service occupations shows that last year there were 432 injuries caused by violence at work to staff below PO level in the Prison Service.

PCS defines violence at work in line with the HSE definition, namely:
'Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.'

PCS believes that employers must not only address the management and prevention of violence at work but must also focus on their employees' perceptions of their vulnerability to violence - as this can be a major source of pressure on staff, if they feel unsafe at work.

POA members at HMP Nottingham have highlighted their concerns about assaults on staff and PCS will be discussing this issue with NOMS management shortly.

If you have any concerns about violence at work at your establishment make sure you inform your local and /or branch health and safety rep immediately.

With more and more admin staff being expected to work with or near to offenders and governors wanting ratios between instructors and prisoners to increase, it is not unreasonable to expect the number of incidents to rise if effective preventative measures are not put in place.

The HSE have comprehensive guidance on addressing the risks of violence at work.

Dave Vickers
Assistant group secretary

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