Sandwell Council launch zero tolerance policy on verbal and physical abuse of staff

A tough new zero tolerance policy is being launched by Sandwell Council and its waste partner Serco in a bid to reduce the increasing number of employees being verbally or physically assaulted by members of the public.

It follows news that there were 35 reported incidents in a 14-month period when binmen, street cleansing employees and operatives working at the tip were verbally or physically assaulted by members of the public. 

Incidents range from verbal abuse when collection vehicles are temporarily blocking the road while employees empty bins to actual physical abuse with items being thrown at crew members and workers being knocked down by drivers while working on the footpath.

One incident resulted in a prosecution for dangerous driving after a motorist drove into an operative who was at the rear of a refuse vehicle emptying a bin. 

Now the waste partnership and union representatives have warned that it will not hesitate to immediately report to the police any incidence of violence and aggression to employees. 

The police are increasingly taking these sorts of cases seriously and will prosecute where there is the evidence and public interest to do so.

Due to the increasing number of incidents, partners have come together including Sandwell Council, Serco and the unions GMB, Unison and Unite to agree a charter that outlines what behaviours are unacceptable and all employees will be trained to manage violence and aggression they experience in the workplace. Councillor David Hosell, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for highways and environment, said:

“The employees deliver a very valuable service to residents in the borough. The level of abuse they endure from members of the public is not acceptable and I urge the residents who do this to reconsider their behaviour. 

“It is not easy to manoeuvre large vehicles on busy roads and although we try to avoid extremely busy areas at peak times it is not always possible."


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