My latest feature for Inside Housing led to this news story:
By Jess McCabe
Front line housing staff report 3,587 physical and verbal assaults in 2013 Physical and verbal assaults on housing staff jumped 22 per cent in 2013 – the third consecutive year the number of attacks has increased. An exclusive investigation by Inside Housing, using freedom of information requests to councils and a survey of the 100 biggest housing associations in the United Kingdom, discovered more than 3,500 assaults on housing staff working for 217 organisations in 2013, and 936 in the first three months of 2014. Of these, 173 organisations supplied two years of comparable data, and witnessed a clear rise in the number of assaults reported by staff. These landlords reported 3,047 assaults in 2013, up from 2,503 in 2012. David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, described the finds as ‘shocking, but sadly not surprising.’ He said: ‘The rise is an indicator of the increasing financial strain on residents. ‘As welfare reforms push people into ever greater financial distress, housing staff are being blamed by desperate tenants who are wrongly taking it out on people who are there to support them.’ Verbal assaults are responsible for the increase, with the number of physical assaults reducing by 4 per cent in 2013. However, the definition of ‘verbal assault’ used by social landlords and local authorities includes threats with weapons, of death and sexual assault and at least one hostage-taking. A number of staff told Inside Housing that verbal assault was considered to be ‘part of the job’. Some of the rise could be explained by landlords getting better at recording assaults. However, in an anonymous survey of 61 housing professionals, more than 40 per cent said they feel less safe doing their jobs than they did 12 months ago. Click here to read more about the abuse housing staff have been faced with over the last year.
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