(2) how many incidents of violence towards Job Centre Plus staff from clients were recorded in each year since 2003; and how many have been recorded in 2007.
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Gentleman with the information requested.
Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 7 March 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions concerning incidents of violence towards Jobcentre Plus staff (a) from customers receiving a decision on Social Fund Crisis funds and (b) more generally in the delivery of our services. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The Agency has robust arrangements for collecting information following verbal, attempted, or actual assaults on our staff. As part of the incident reporting process, we ask our staff to categorise as near as they can the cause of an incident by selecting from a list. We do not have an exact match to the ‘Social Fund Crisis funds’ category in your question, but the second column of the table below shows where staff have selected the closest match—a category entitled ‘Social Fund/Hardship claim dispute, e.g. eligibility, delays, demands’. The third column shows the total number of actual assaults against our staff during the period you state. Incidents relating to Social Fund/Hardship represent a small proportion of the total number of assaults.
Calendar year Actual assaults—social fund Total actual assaults 2003 6 239 2004 7 341 2005 10 420 2006 10 421 2007 (to date) 0 3
Actual assaults—social fund
Total actual assaults
2007 (to date)
We take the safety of our people very seriously. Customer-facing activity is thoroughly risk-assessed and control measures are in place to manage the risk in our offices. Whilst no assault is acceptable, our assault figures should be seen in the context not only of the millions of face to face contacts we have with customers each year, but also a more rigorous approach to reporting incidents being adopted. The likelihood of being subject to an actual assault in our offices is low: for example, in 2006, around one half of one percent of our staff reported such an incident.
Moreover, the vast majority of these assaults do not result in any physical injury: fewer than 20 assaults each year result in injuries reported as ‘more than minor cuts and bruises’ and the number of injuries per year, unlike the wider reported trend, has not increased since 2003.