Coventry City Council has launched a new campaign today, reminding people there’s ‘no excuse for abuse’ in any form.
The campaign comes at a time when many residents are returning to more to face-to-face appointments and visits after the restrictions of COVID.
Abuse towards Council employees during their work – both physical and verbal – is a growing concern, with an increased number of incidents reported over recent years.
Since 2019-20 there has been a total of over 750 incidents. Over 300 cases involve verbal abuse, but 14 have seen staff forced to take time off after physical attacks. And weapons, varying from walking sticks to kitchen utensils - have been used in 29 incidents.
Recent incidents have included people threatening to spit at staff to pass on COVID, a car being driven at speed towards one employee, and one being threatened with a machete. There have also been many incidents of verbal abuse.
The campaign is being supported by messages on Twitter and Facebook and posters in locations such as libraries, testing centres and Family Hubs, reminding residents that any form of abuse or violence is not acceptable.
It carries a clear message that police will be notified of any offences and the Council will look to prosecute those who cross the line.
Council staff in a variety of roles fall victim to abuse, and now the message is clear – there is no excuse. Even those who have volunteered to help at testing or vaccination centres have been targeted, along with traffic officers and bin crews and many more.
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of the Council, said: “Council staff work hard every day to support the people of our city and we know that is appreciated by the vast majority. Unfortunately, some people do cross the line and become abusive and now we are sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated and legal action will be taken.
“We know recent times have been hard for people and there has been frustration and impatience with new restrictions and ways of working, but that is no excuse for people to think they can abuse or threaten Council staff.
“We cannot just stand by and let this abuse grow, as sadly it has already spread to places such as COVID testing centres where many staff are volunteering their own time to help the vulnerable of our city and protect everyone.
“We are there to help and support the people of the city and we thank the vast majority of those for the way they work with us, but the message to the abusive minority is now clear – we will inform police and we will look to prosecute where possible to protect our staff.”
The campaign follows similar action taken by organisations such as the NHS and other local authorities.