TV Licensing officer punched and chased as figures show attacks have doubled
A Northern Ireland TV Licensing officer has described being punched and chased by a violent householder to highlight the growing number of attacks on colleagues.
Assaults on TV Licensing staff have more than doubled in the last year across the UK.
Most unfold when officers challenge householders about not paying for a licence.
The Northern Ireland officer, who did not want to be named, recalled his experiences.
"I was punched in the face by the occupier, followed back to my car where he tried to smash the car window, then followed me for five miles," he said.
He also expressed concern about videos people upload to the internet of them abusing licensing staff on their doorsteps.
"There's nothing I can personally do to prevent videos being uploaded to YouTube," he said.
"Though it is unpleasant when they are edited and only show one side of the conversation."
In the last financial year, 89 inquiry officers were victims of physical assaults by members of the public across the UK - an increase of 52 on the previous 12 months.
When verbal assaults are factored in, including death threats, 360 inquiry officers were targeted.
Colin Jones, TV Licensing field operations director, said: "The threats our officers can receive when they are just trying to carry out their role is completely unacceptable. Those who attack them seem to forget they are human beings.
"They do a great job, remaining professional and courteous in sometimes very challenging circumstances and we do everything we can to support them. This includes reporting serious threats and abuse to the police."
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association is supporting the awareness raising campaign.
NIIRTA chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "We at the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association condemn these despicable attacks on the inquiry officers who work on behalf of TV Licensing.
"We represent staff across Northern Ireland and find it abhorrent that people are victim to such abuse for simply trying to go out and earn a living. We must send out a strong message that these attacks will not be tolerated in our community."