Helping the jobless is UK’s most dangerous occupation

Staff
in Jobcentres, benefit offices and the combined Jobcentre Plus offices are more
worried about threats and abuse at work than any other workforce in the UK and
only public transport workers are more worried about physical attack.

Nearly
half of respondents to a survey of 5,000 Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
staff had personally experienced violence at work in the last year.

The
survey by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and security systems
provider Safetell, reveals that three-quarters of DWP staff working in constant
contact with the public had experienced violence at work in the last 12 months.

And
84 per cent of these workers had witnessed violence in their workplace.

Only
8 per cent of frontline workers are not worried about the risk of threats and
abuse at work, while more than two-thirds are worried about being attacked in
the future. 

The
survey compared Jobcentre Plus staff worries about threats and violence at work
with the British Crime Survey 2000 (BCS), which looked at other workers who are
in contact with the public.

Nearly
half of the DWP staff surveyed are worried about the risk of abuse at work,
rising to two-thirds for those staff in constant contact with the public.

This
compares to an average of only 17 per cent of workers who had personal contact
with the public surveyed by BCS.

PCS
general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This important research will feed
into the Jobcentre Plus safety review, beginning next month, that PCS members
secured through over six months of industrial action.

“PCS
and Jobcentre Plus management will have to work to build a safety strategy that
will dramatically reduce the abuse and violence suffered by this vulnerable
workforce."

By Ben Willmott

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