Punched and bruised - Revealed: shocking toll of attacks on council staff in Whitby

Parking attendants have been physically attacked in Whitby.
Parking attendants have been physically attacked in Whitby.

Punching, bruising and feet being stomped on are just some of the shocking attacks to have taken place on council staff in Whitby, it has been revealed.

A Whitby Gazette investigation has uncovered the toll of verbal and physical abuse suffered by workers over the past two years.

Figures obtained by a Freedom of information request show that there were three cases of physical abuse against council staff, and 27 cases of verbal abuse.

On Crescent Avenue a parking attendant was pushed then punched to the body, resulting in bruising.

In a separate incident in the Leisure Centre car park, a parking attendant suffered a cut from straps after wrestling with a member of public who tried to snatch their equipment away.

There was another incident in Abbot’s Walk where the assailant stomped on the civil enforcement officer's foot.

Unions have now called for greater protection and support for workers, after councils across Yorkshire revealed thousands of incidents of assaults on staff who were “simply doing their jobs”.

Unison regional organiser Robin Symonds said it had seen an increase in incidents of violence and aggression towards local authority employees over recent years, “which correlates to the reduction in central government funding and consequent cuts to employee numbers”.

“Public sector workers are the public face of all local councils and all too often bear the brunt of frustration and anger of service users whose expectations remain the same even though their council’s budget has been drastically reduced over the last seven years.

“Unison members report that this is a problem affecting all council workers – from refuse collectors receiving abuse because they now empty bins less frequently to teaching assistants whose numbers have been cut whilst class sizes have increased.

“Often incidents go unreported and the true extent of the problem is almost certainly even worse than it appears.

“The real worry though is that the problem is likely to worsen as austerity is set to continue”.

His thoughts were echoed by the GMB, who said employers have a duty of care to protect staff.

Senior organiser for public services for Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, Desiree Wilburn, said: “These people are doing the best they can to deliver a service or to help people, however, there are individuals out there

with mental health problems or frustrations, and our members seem to be on the receiving end.

“This is not isolated to local authorities, this is happening in the NHS, police, and other organisations too.

“We are hoping the Protect the Protectors Bill will go through and have an impact. It cannot continue like this.”