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Wave of assaults on jobcentre staff as benefit cuts bite

attacks on jobcentre staff are 'shocking but unsurprising'

Assaults against jobcentre staff have doubled in the wake of Con-Dem benefit cuts - a rise branded "shocking but unsurprising" by public servants' union PCS.

Figures obtained by Labour MP Stephen Timms revealed that Jobcentre Plus staff suffered more than one physical attack a day over the past year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stats showed staff reported 476 assaults in 2012/13 - up from 228 in 2009/10, before the coalition took power and began wrecking the benefits system.

PCS leader Mark Serwotka said: "Alongside a wider assault on public services and those who provide them, the government has launched the most disgusting campaign of vilification against the sick, disabled and unemployed in a bid to justify cutting the benefits to which they are entitled.

"It is shocking but unsurprising that we are seeing an increase in attacks on jobcentre staff in the wake of this.

"No-one goes into the employment service to be in conflict with claimants, and ministers must bear full responsibility and blame."

Shadow employment minister Mr Timms, who obtained the figures after a number of written parliamentary questions to the DWP, called the rise "deeply troubling."

He said the figures "reflect growing pressure on jobcentre staff as benefit cuts kick in and sanctions rocket."

Of the 476 reported assaults, 80 resulted in cuts and bruises and 23 in an injury greater than a cut or a bruise.

In the first six months of this financial year, 248 assaults were recorded at a rate of more than one a day.

In 2010/11 the total number of assaults was 245. By the following year, in 2011/12, there were 298 incidents recorded.

As of September 2011, the last year for which information is available, the number of staff employed by Jobcentre Plus was 75,323, across 718 offices.

A DWP spokeswoman said: "Any attack on our staff - physical or verbal - is entirely unacceptable. Their safety, and the safety of our customers, has always been of primary importance.

"Fortunately, assaults are rare and this has remained the case over the last five years."


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