The estimated number of incidents of violence experienced by workers in
England and Wales is at its lowest level since 1991, according to the latest
British Crime Survey.
The survey, which is conducted by the Home Office and the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) every two years, found that in 2002/03 there were 849,000
violent incidents, including threats and physical assaults. The number of
incidents peaked at just over 1.3 million in 1995, and has been on a downward
trend ever since.
Workers in the protective services, such as police officers, are most at
risk, with 14 per cent experiencing violence in 2002/3.
Health and social welfare associate professionals, including nurses, medical
and dental practitioners, were also at relatively high risk, at 5 per cent.
The overall risk of experiencing actual or threatened violence at work was
1.7 per cent, down from 2.7 per cent in 1995 and lower than in 1991, when the
overall risk was 2 per cent.
More than two-thirds of workers who had some contact with the public in
2002/3 received neither formal training or informal advice on how to deal with
violent or threatening behaviour.
Although 81 per cent of staff in protective services received formal
training, the level of training did not exceed 54 per cent among other
A total of 16 per cent of all staff in contact with members of the public
were very or fairly worried about being assaulted at work, and 19 per cent were
very or fairly worried about being threatened.
Chris Rowe, head of psychosocial issues at the HSE, said: "The apparent
fall in the number of incidents since 1995 is encouraging, but the actual
number of incidents is probably much greater than this, as it is likely that
many incidents are not reported."