A survey by UNISON Scotland reveals that there has been a huge increase in the number of violent incidents being reported to employers.

The annual survey which highlights the number of violent incidents reported to public service employers found that 34,739 staff reported occurrences last year, which is almost 15,000 more than when it was first conducted in 2006.

Commenting on the findings, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson, said:

“The latest figures demonstrate an appalling level of violent incidents faced by staff who are simply doing their job.”

According to the survey reported incidents in the NHS have decreased by 967 to 10,974; however the two largest health boards were unable to produce figures this year, so the findings have to be treated with caution.

Dave Watson, who will present the survey results to the UNISON’s health and safety conference at Stirling University Today (26 October) said of the employers who failed to produce data:

“While we are pleased that many employers are improving their systems, others have obviously got some way to go. If they can’t produce decent statistics they cannot be tackling the problem”.

The report also showed that there has been an increase of 2,357 reported incidents in Local Government to bring the total number to 14,274.

Following the report, which can be downloaded here, Scott Donohoe, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health and Safety Committee, said:

“The biggest increase in violent incidents is happening in those council services that are facing the brunt of spending cuts. Staff are stretched too thinly, dealing with service users facing cuts in the services they rely on. This is a toxic cocktail that is putting hard pressed workers at greater risk of violent assault.”

Convictions under the Emergency Workers Act have increased by 44 to 324. Due to the limited scope of the Act, very few violent incidents result in criminal action and efforts to address this were blocked by the Scottish Government when they opposed Hugh Henry MSP’s, Protection of Worker’s Bill.

Watson added:

“Employers must redouble their efforts to protect workers and the Scottish Government must play its role by strengthening the criminal law.”