FRONT-LINE council staff across Yorkshire were kicked, punched, bitten, assaulted and verbally abused more than 7,250 times in the last two years, an investigation has revealed.
Unions have called for greater protection and support for workers after councils across the region revealed thousands of incidents of assaults on staff who were “simply doing their jobs”.
They include a school crossing patrol worker being assaulted in Calderdale, the attempted strangling of a worker in Doncaste and a pregnant teacher being forced to go to A&E after being bitten in North Lincolnshire
Of the 21 local authorities that responded to a Freedom of Information request, only Selby and Ryedale district councils were without incident, with even affluent and rural areas such as Craven, Hambleton and Richmondshire recording incidents, including a housing support officer being verbally abused at a council house in Richmond. A member of North Yorkshire County Council staff was even assaulted at Harrogate Library.
The largest number of assaults came in Leeds, where there were 1,411 incidents, of which 407 were physical. They took place in departments including adult social care, libraries and museums.
Worryingly, of the 1,233 incidents in Rotherham, of which 1,126 were physically violent, 1,127 were in schools.
Two incidents recorded by the authority were classed as sexual harassment. Kirklees recorded 1,080 incidents, of which 999 were violent, including staff at primary schools having their hair pulled, being headbutted, slapped, bitten, kicked and punched. In Doncaster, 84 per cent of the 756 incidents were physically violent.
The GMB’s senior organiser for public services for Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, Desiree Wilburn, said: “Nobody should go to work to be abused or attacked. Employers have a duty of care and should have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of abuse in the workplace.”