Talks on proposed assault law urged

Unison has called for talks with teaching
unions to discuss demands for greater protection from assault for
public servants made by one of the major teachers’ unions.

Outgoing NASUWT general secretary
Nigel de Gruchy told his union’s annual conference in Scarborough
last week that current laws did not go far enough to protect
teachers against violence in the workplace and called for specific
legislation to protect all public servants against attack from the
people they served.

national officer for social services Owen Davies said he was
“interested” in the idea, but that any such change would have to
take into account the nature of the service-users who social
workers dealt with.

you are dealing with people with dementia or people with mental
health issues, you have got to be careful,” Davies said. “They are
a bit different to parents of disruptive pupils.”

said that he was not convinced a criminal charge would always be
helpful, and warned of a potential backlash if public servants were
given more protection than other members of the public.

spokesperson for the National Union of Teachers said it was
unlikely that the NUT would argue for a separate offence of an
assault against a public servant, but would instead like to see
guidance published on harsher sentencing in such cases.

Gruchy’s comments followed education minister Stephen Timms’
insistence in his speech to the NASUWT conference that the law
already provided adequate protections for public sector workers,
and that the problem now was making sure it was used

are existing powers which are not being used,” Timms said. “Parents
causing a disturbance can be removed and prosecuted. Parents
assaulting a teacher can be charged. If someone causes harassment,
they can be taken before the courts. We don’t need new legislation,
we just need the will to use the powers there are


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