Violence in Social Care

I was pushed down the stairs while I was pregnant – I lost the baby.

Violence poster A Community Care survey has revealed shocking accounts of the abuse and violence social workers have been subjected to in their work. More than 94% of the social workers surveyed reported having been abused in some way, including 22% who were victims of physical violence and 92% who had been verbally abused.

And in a separate study, data gathered from 117 councils shows a rise in the average number of recorded incidents of abuse, harassment and violence against social workers and other social care professionals.

In response Community Care has teamed up with Unison to launch a campaign calling for action to improve reporting and recording of the problem so that the real extent of the problem is finally revealed.

We’ve also gathered together a number of resources to help social workers deal with the danger they face in their work, including a specially created video offering advice on how to defuse dangerous situations.

These are your shocking stories of abuse on the frontline:

Seated in doctors’ room in police custody centre. Person was sitting opposite me…[she] leapt out and hit me around the head, both sides. Was restrained by the two doctors until police could assist…had to continue work as was the only approved mental health professional on duty and not ‘sufficiently injured’ – just very shaken.

Police could not prove he cut the brakes but when his home was raided they found detailed records of both my movements and my manager’s movements.

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A parent attended my office looking for a travel allowance for contact with her children in care. As she had not actually attended contact with her children for over three months, I had to advise her that we could not provide the allowance. She spat in my face…I was physically sick afterwards, humiliated and upset. If she had hit me it wouldn’t have had such an impact…it was truly disgusting.

Held hostage in flat by service user, able to call police and get assistance to escape.

Client had a diagnosis of HIV, I carried out a review of his services and reduced his care package. He threatened to stab me with a needle of his infected blood, have me shot and run over.

Whilst removing a child under an emergency protection order in company of social worker and two police officers, mother came at me and the child with a garden fork. I moved the child out of the way and headed for the car. When I got to the car, I realised she had stabbed me in the leg, which was now bleeding profusely and required stitches.

Cornered in a room and shouted at by a man with glass from a broken fish tank in his hand and threatened.

Car smashed to pieces, all windows caved in as well as very damaged body work.

Was pushed down some stairs by a woman who came for contact. I was pregnant at the time – I lost the baby.

Parent threatened to set ‘the travellers’ onto the social worker, follow her home from work and then kidnap her children.

Practice resources
With experiences of abuse, harassment and violence so commonplace in social work, practitioners must take steps to protect themselves. We have brought together a range of resources designed to help social workers and other social care professionals defuse dangerous situations and better manage risk.Stay safe

Aggression management trainer Ray Braithwaite offers tips on how to keep yourself safe on visits.

Improve your practice

inform imageCommunity Care Inform has a range of expert-written practice guides on managing violent situations.

How to deal with hostile and aggressive adults or young people and how to manage intimidating situations – a guide for workers

Working with hostile and uncooperative parents

Guide to managing risk in social work

Guide to managing stress – a manager’s guide

If you are not already an Inform subscriber, you can join easily online.

Unison logoWhat employers should do

Unison also produces It’s Not Part of the Job, a detailed guide offering advice on what employers must and should do when it comes to violence at work.

Find out more logo

violence in your areaViolence levels in your area

Find out how many incidents of abuse social workers experienced in your area with our free interactive map and spreadsheet showing how each local authority compares.

key findingsSee all the key findings

We’ve pulled together the most important data from our own survey of social workers and the information supplied by local authorities following our Freedom of Information request.

take action logo

Community Care has teamed up with Unison to encourage more social care workers to speak out against the violence and abuse they face.

free poster downloadDownload a free poster

Put up a copy of our campaign poster in your workplace, urging social workers to report the incidents they experience rather than suffer in silence. Download the poster here (PDF). (Poster design by Gintare Minelgaite)

write to your councillorWrite to your councillor

We’ve developed a template letter for social care professionals to send to the councillor responsible for social care in their authority. As well as pressing home the key steps that councils can do to help improve the situation, it also allows you to tell them about what you have personally experienced on the job, helping to bring the reality of the problem to their attention. Download the letter here (Word doc).

write to your mpWrite to your MP

MPs can help push for national action on this issue, so we’ve created a template letter that will help bring the need for action to their attention. Download the letter here (Word doc).

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