Social workers should be prepared against violence

All social services teams should have procedures in place to deal with the risk of violence and threatening behaviour from clients. CC Live logo article

This was the message of Leicestershire Council children and young people’s team managers Alison Talheth and Sue Carter, who, following a spate of incidents, helped set up a working group including representatives from the police to improve staff’s handling of violence against them.

Carter said the use of posters to warn clients off abusive behaviour were ineffective. Instead, Leicestershire has implemented procedures and a risk assessment matrix to minimise the dangers staff face. Also, simple measures have been taken to ensure mobile phone numbers, car details, and timings of visits are known to managers and, in some circumstances, partners and housemates.

The availability of staff’s private addresses on internet sites such as was highlighted as a particular threat to staff’s safety.

Talheth urged agencies to consider the use of satellite phones which allow police to pinpoint their exact location.

Social workers at the meeting commented that their own departments lacked procedures to deal with threats against staff and that there was a lack of training in the area.

The Leicestershire policies were partly a response to a case where one client, who was known to possess firearms, gained through the internet the private addresses of social work staff and their families and made threats against them including sending sympathy cards. .

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