Is bashing a public servant a new sport?

cartoon again violence
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As a police officer I accepted that there would be times I could be involved in violent situations, it sort of goes with the job (unfortunately). Thankfully however, mainly because it was understood to be something of a recognised situation, the training and equipment available to protect yourself improved massively during my service.

I have to say there were often issues around the level of training delivered and the quality of equipment that officers were provided with sometimes, mainly due to financial considerations and constraint however, that’s another story.

Like many, I find it worrying how violent our society is becoming and how, many members of that society consider it a kind of ‘sport’ and acceptable to bash a public servant…

It is now commonplace for Firefighters to be attacked at the scene of an incident by stone wielding teenagers and, nurses to get a severe kicking on a Saturday night in the local A&E, simply for trying to dress the head wound of some drunken thug?

SHP Online: Statistics released in November by the NHS Security Management Service showed that the total number of assaults on NHS staff rose by 3.6 per cent – from 54,758 to 56,718 – between 2008/09 and 2009/10. The cost of violence and aggression towards NHS staff is estimated to be about £69 million a year, once staff absence, loss of productivity and additional security are all factored into the equation… (Read more)

The SHP article outlines the Department of Health (DH) commissioning of a project to explore how violence and aggression towards hospital A&E staff can be reduced by redesigning casualty departments. Any move towards cutting violence has to be a good move. At the very least the employer is acknowledging the problem exists but more importantly, is actually trying to do something to reduce that risk. However, like some of the commentators to the news, I remain unconvinced that simply implementing a new A&E layout and change of furniture will actually prove to be enough?

SHP Online: …Putting a couple of six foot 20 stone coppers with guns in each department from 9.00pm to 2.00am should sort the problem out as oposed to a trillion pound exercise carried out by… (Sean Slevin)

SHP Online: …Surely the Trusts have a duty of care to protect them against violence… Lets give them real security and real convictions for the mindless few who attack and abuse them… (Roger Mansfield)

As I’ve said above, the proposal is a move in the right direction however; as we live in an age where kids grow up thinking it’s OK to thump a teacher and, where parents subsequently attend the school to batter them again, simply for chastising the child, isn’t the underlying problem a far more deep-rooted one? Because of this and the fact, we now often face greater danger of injury from other humans at work than the task you are actually employed to perform, isn’t it just another piecemeal reaction to a far greater issue? One that requires a far more holistic approach to finding a solution?

Workplace violence is not going to decrease over night in fact, it is a far greater problem than many in a position to do something about it would actually care admit…

Workplace violence and harassment on the increase in Europe – OSHA: Violence, bullying and harassment are becoming increasingly common features of European workplaces, according to a new report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work EU-OSHA. Yet the response from organisations and national governments is widely felt to be inadequate. (Download and read full report PDF 4650Kb)

As the (above) article points out, we are not alone with this dire phenomenon in the UK. It’s a problem right across the remainder of Europe and indeed the world. Once again we need more joined-up thinking amongst all agencies involved in dealing with the offenders. Unfortunately, there comes a point whereby; efficient risk assesment, training and provision of suitable equipment and the design of facilities and their good management is simply insuficient. Offenders really need to understand (and be in fear of) the consequences of their actions!

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