Violence against social care staff – Community Care special report

Nine out of ten social workers have suffered abuse, assaults and threats while councils recorded more than 45,000 incidents against social care workers in the last three years.

Community Care’s investigation reveals high levels of abuse suffered by social care staff and a lack of recognition, training and policies among employers to deal with the problem.

The findings prompted calls from unions for greater protection of frontline staff in social care, including a proposal for a national system of reporting and monitoring violence.

An online survey of more than 100 social workers and managers revealed a third had been physically assaulted and 90% had been verbally abused while on duty, while in the past year, 80% of practitioners had experienced more than one abusive incident.

Practitioners told us their shocking stories of how they were punched, stabbed, strangled, kicked and assaulted with missiles thrown by service users who they were trying to help. Weapons included bricks, mobile phones, knives and others, pictured above.

Meanwhile, our Freedom of Information investigation revealed huge disparities in the way local authorities in England record violent incidents.

Councils have previously rejected the proposal for a national system of reporting and monitoring incidents, arguing local reporting systems are the most effective solution, but Community Care’s survey suggests a lack of action in following up incidents locally.

Our findings support Unison’s claim that violence against people working in social care in the UK has reached “chronic” levels.

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Zero tolerance on violence

“These survey results show that levels of violence and abuse are high, and recognition, training and policies in agencies are often inadequate”, Professor Brian Littlechild, University of HertfordshireMore

Danger on the streets

“A service user pulled out an airgun and shot at the shrine while the social worker was sitting next to him” Wendy Paskell, approved mental health professional manager, Oxfordshire Social and Community ServicesMore

Lessons from the NHS

How the NHS tackles violence against staffMore

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