Unison has called for more funding from the government to protect frontline social care staff after allegations that failings by the Metropolitan Police allowed a mentally ill service user to stalk a social worker for six years.
Shauna Bailey, who now lives under a witness protection scheme with a new identity, was among 200 victims of the man dubbed “Britain’s worst stalker” from Ealing, west London, from 1996 to 2002.
Richard Jan, 37, launched a hate campaign against professionals from health and social care and councillors after a mental health assessment team was called to his home in 1996.
He made numerous silent phone calls to Bailey, his allocated social worker, attempted to set fire to her car and assaulted her twice, once with a brick. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004.
Bailey complained about the Metropolitan Police’s response to the case in 2003, and then to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the way her complaint was handled.
The IPCC has now admitted its response was “not good enough”.
Chair of the IPCC Nick Hardwick admitted Bailey’s experience was “exacerbated by police failings”. He said that the IPCC inherited the case from the previous complaints system, which ended in 2004, and as such its role and powers were “severely restricted”.
Unison, which represents 350,000 social care workers in the UK, is now calling for closer relations between police and social care employers, and for clearer guidance on how incidents against staff should be investigated and prosecuted.
Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social workers, told Community Care: “There is a chronic problem in the UK with violence and threats against staff working in social care.
“We need additional funding from central government, equivalent to that given to NHS workers, to tackle violence against social workers and social care staff.
“These measures should include thorough risk assessments that are revised following any incidents, co-working on visits and redeploying anyone who is threatened or abused whilst the incidents is fully investigated.”
She added that it was vital to develop a new system to encourage social care staff to come forward and report incidents, and to record them more accurately.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that violence against social care workers “remains a major concern”, adding: “There is therefore a need for both employers and individuals to ensure effective risk reduction and appropriate responses whenever a violent incident occurs.”
“Some progress has been made in this area. It is clear that there is much greater awareness, significantly improved training (both in terms of quality and quantity), better procedures, improved reporting of incidents and enhanced risk reduction strategies. However, there is still work to do.”
The spokesperson said a new guide for employers and professionals for tackling violence against social care workers was available on the Skills for Care website and will be launched officially in the spring.
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