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Third of public sector employees attacked or threatened at work, research claims

Published 03/11/2016

Some 49% of public sector workers felt withstanding threats from the public was now simply part of the job, the survey found
Some 49% of public sector workers felt withstanding threats from the public was now simply part of the job, the survey found

More than a third of the country's public sector workers have been attacked or threatened on the job, a new study claims.

The research, commissioned by law firm Slater and Gordon, involved 1,000 public sector workers answering a variety of questions about their experiences on the job.

Employees including doctors, nurses and police officers responded to the survey, which found 11% had suffered physical abuse while on the clock.

More than half of these assaults involved punches being thrown, while other workers recounted instances of being kicked, slapped and spat at.

Public sector staff were also subjected to attempts to strangle them or threatened with weapons, with some even reporting being sexually assaulted, the study found.

Meanwhile, almost one in four said they had been the subject of threats while at work.

The study, conducted by survey consultants Censuswide, found the vast majority of those abused described being attacked on more than one occasion and just over half blamed cutbacks for putting them at greater risk.

But 49% of public sector workers felt withstanding threats from the public was now simply part of the job, the survey also found.

Tracey Benson, an employment liability specialist for Slater and Gordon, said it was "particularly appalling" most attacks on workers were committed by members of the public.

She said: "The fact we are seeing an increase in the number of cases of this kind is extremely alarming."

The commissioned research comes after the public service union Unison's annual Violence at Work survey showed violent assaults on Scottish workers had doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 per year in the last decade.

The union maintained the jump in numbers could not simply be explained by better awareness and reporting practices.

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