Up to 50,000 assaults on social care staff take place in England every year, according to figures published by the Local Government Association.
The estimate was based on a snapshot survey of 12 local authorities that showed around 4,000 assaults on social care staff took place over a one-year period.
The LGA said that while some councils provided mobile phones and panic alarm loans, many social services departments were “battling” with budgetary demands such as older peoples’ services.
It claimed workers were being assaulted despite initiatives such as self-defence training and councils’ legal duty to carry out risk assessments of potentially hazardous situations.
Cllr David Rogers, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, slammed the high levels of assault as “unacceptable” and called for social care staff to get the same level of support as health workers.
“Only last month the secretary of state awarded nearly £100m to NHS community nurses providing them with personal safety alarms and a promise to ‘get tough’ on their assailants. It is high time this token was extended to social care staff to stamp out this unwanted menance and equip workers with the confidence to go about their work without fear of intimidation. It is essential that both local and central government tackles this issue head on if we are to avoid a recruitment crisis and a crisis in confidence from the hundreds and thousands of staff committed to helping others,” he said.
A separate MORI poll for the LGA also revealed that more than half of members of the public believed individuals who assaulted social care staff should have their benefits cut or receive an Asbo as punishment.