A year ago I spoke at the launch of a new guide Managing Occupational Violence and Aggression in the Workplace. This is aimed primarily at local government and was the culmination of over a year's work by a band of council safety managers and myself in conjunction with the Centre for Healthy Working Lives. Today we met in Glasgow to review progress.
There has been an increase in violent incidents in Scottish local government last year. That is not necessarily a reflection on the policy and it may demonstrate better recording as a result of new systems and greater awareness. However, in UNISON's annual survey we asked councils what action they had taken in light of the new guidance. The discouraging answer was, not a lot. In fact most councils couldn't identify any action at all. This is reflected in other responses to the survey. Whilst there had been some real improvements in a small number of councils, the usual suspects had all the same problems of poor recording and evaluation.
There is a real concern that as the cuts in local government bite deeper, there is likely to be an increase in user frustration that could lead to even more violent incidents. The HSE cuts means that we can't count on them to be monitoring poor practice. So it is up to our Safety Committee's to raise the issue and for CoSLA and others to promote best practice.
It was recognised at the meeting that at the very least you would have expected is a review of existing policies and systems. This is something that we will focus on in this year's survey. Naming and shaming will be the approach, so the councils concerned have been warned!