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Tide of violence hits public sector

Tory spending cuts meant another increase in violent incidents against public sector workers

A "toxic cocktail" of Tory spending cuts meant another increase in violent incidents against public sector workers in the last year, according to figures from trade union Unison.

The union's annual survey of violent incidents across Scottish councils and NHS Scotland made grim reading at its health and safety conference at Stirling University yesterday.

There were 33,689 incidents reported to public employers last year - almost 14,000 more than when the first survey was conducted in 2006.

Unison Scottish organiser Dave Watson said: "This is a toxic cocktail that is putting hard-pressed workers at greater risk of violent assault.

"The biggest increase in violent incidents is happening in services that have suffered staffing cuts. Workers are stretched too thinly, dealing with the public who are coping with cuts in the services they rely on."

The survey shows that council and NHS workers, who face big staffing losses, have seen an increase in violence.

Incidents in councils have increased by 730 to 14,879. NHS incidents are up by 1,744 to 12,618.

Unison Scotland's Scott Donohoe said: "These numbers only cover recorded incidents - the tip of the iceberg of misery for many staff.

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

The councils that could not even collate the statistics were Angus, Aberdeenshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.

For police officers, who have been moderately protected from cuts, the number of incidents fell by by 3,074 to 6,187.

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