Security guard plan for Calderdale Council offices as staff come under violent and abusive attacks

Security officers could be installed at Calderdale Council contact centres after a rise in violent and abusive attacks on staff.

Calderdale Council is presenting its annual review of health and safety arrangements at the meeting of its Cabinet of Monday January 14.

Customer First Centre in Halifax (Google Street View)

Customer First Centre in Halifax (Google Street View)

Between the financial period April 1 2018 to March 31 2019 it has been revealed that there was 107 incidents of violence and aggression towards council staff.

In the review it said: "There have been a number of significant threats, abuse and physical violence to staff reported to the Health and Safety Team in this reporting period.

"This is a big concern as reports of threats and intimidation do not affect the accident statistics as they are not reportable to the HSE and these effects on staff are harder to assess.

"These threats have highlighted the vulnerability of front facing reception staff, Customer First and other officers in our town centre buildings and the inadequate security arrangements currently in place.

"Historically front facing reception staff had secure glass fronted reception cubicles but these were removed to provide a friendlier more customer focused reception environment because all the public are supposed to go through Customer First but this is not the reality.

"The recommended compromise and way forward may be that these more open receptions need members of staff who are customer focused but are also Security Industry Association (SIA) security trained.

"This would need to be carefully managed and existing staff supported into other business support roles.

"The suggested way forward would be to trial the use of a floating SIA security officer (or SIA badged Community Safety Warden dedicated to this town centre role) who could respond to any incident at Customer First or any TCOS building.

"The solutions are not simple but the financial risks alone of not protecting staff from assault are high in terms of potential HSE fines, self-insured civil claims and litigation and increased insurance premiums.

"Violence resulting in over 7 days off work is reportable and the HSE do investigate these incidents if they consider risk assessments were inadequate.

"Specific investment is therefore required for the Town Hall reception and a security review is needed for all the Council’s town centre buildings to assess access points, panic alarms etc.

The 2019 health and safety report outlines the year’s challenges, successes and a number of recommendations, supporting work to make Calderdale a healthier and safer place for both employees of the Council and Calderdale residents.

The Council says its health and safety team continues to work hard to maintain good health and safety standards and ensure arrangements and plans are adequate and robust.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Resources, Councillor Jane Scullion, said: “As a Council we’re dedicated to keeping our staff and residents as safe as possible and we are proud of our excellent health and safety record.

“We all play a part in ensuring we maintain a safe environment in Calderdale. The Council continues to do all it can to reduce the likelihood and impact of incidents and accidents and the potential for harm to both employees and members of the public.

“This annual report highlights our health and safety arrangements, challenges and areas where we think improvements can be made, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to good safety management.”

The annual health and safety report will be discussed at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday 13 January 2020.