Care worker attacked five times receives compensation from council

Unison’s legal representatives said Sandwell council should have moved the young attacker to a secure unit as soon as his violent behaviour was identified.

A care worker who was attacked five times by a teenager who should have been in a secure unit has received compensation after her injuries left her unable to work.

The woman was first attacked at a residential children’s home in West Bromwich in August 2008, according to Unison. The young man, who had a history of violent and sexually inappropriate behaviour, hit her with a chair.

But Sandwell council did not put measures in place to avoid another incident, Unison said, and over the course of the next five months, the care worker was attacked another four times.

On one occasion, the young man threatened to cut her throat with a jagged piece of Perspex. He also punched her twice on the arm, leaving her unable to restrain or lift people or use a computer for long periods of time; and therefore unable to continue as a care worker.

“After I reported the first incident, I thought my bosses would have this youth transferred to a secure unit which would be able to provide the correct type of care for him in a safe environment. But nothing changed and he kept on attacking me,” said the care worker.

“It was extremely frightening going into work, not knowing what he would do next and wondering how far he would take things.”

The teenager was moved to a secure unit in April 2009, three months after the final assault.

Unison’s legal firm, Thompsons Solicitors, argued that the young man should never have been placed in the children’s home and should have been moved to a secure unit as soon as his violent behaviour was identified.

“Employers have a duty of care to their staff and must take all reasonable steps to protect them from assaults at work,” said John Mullen from Thompsons. “It is astonishing that this council allowed a series of attacks to take place before taking any action.”

A spokesperson for Sandwell said the council did not admit liability for the injuries caused. But Sandwell’s cabinet member for children and families, Simon Hackett, added: “We recognise we have a high standard of duty of care to employees and do all we can to ensure that we meet that standard. In this instance unfortunately our insurers believed that on the balance of probabilities we did not meet that standard.”

It is not known how much the care worker received in compensation, however, Unison said it was a “substantial amount”.

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