Councillors in Northumberland have agreed to adopt a new charter that aims to protect public sector workers from violence in the workplace.

It follows the publication of “worrying” statistics from trade unions around the number of their members who have experienced violence at work.

UNISON say there are “consistently high” levels of members experiencing incidents of aggression or violence, with incidents including staff being punched, kicked and pushed.

Others have been threatened with weapons and even held against their will. In response to this, Northumberland Labour leader Scott Dickinson tabled a motion at a meeting of the county council calling on the local authority to adopt the charter.

Speaking at the meeting, he said: “There have been some worrying stats come out from UNISON, the TUC and all unions have come out with data from members saying they have experienced violence in the workplace as well as intimidation and bullying.

“We care about our staff. We won’t tolerate this sort of behaviour.”

The charter has ten key steps, which are: 

1. The employer has a written violence and aggression at work policy, which is available to all staff. The policy should also cover lone working.

2. Responsibility for implementing these policies lies with a senior manager.

3. Measures are taken to reduce staff working in isolated buildings, offices or other work areas to a minimum.

4. Staff are encouraged to report all violent incidents and they are told how to do this.

5. The employer collects and monitors data on violent incidents on a regular and ongoing basis.

6. Where they are in place, union safety reps are able to access this data and are consulted on solutions to issues relating to violence in the workplace.

7. Thorough risk assessments are conducted for staff placed in vulnerable situations.

8. The employer has support pathways in place for staff who are victims of violence at work, so that they know where to turn for advice and support.

9. Training to ensure staff are aware of the appropriate way to deal with threatening situations.

10. Where appropriate, independent counselling services are available to staff who are the victims of violence at work.

The council almost unanimously agreed to back Cllr Dickinson’s motion, with only Independent councillor Scott Lee voting against.