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Zero tolerance call on council staff abuse

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Zero tolerance call on council staff abuse

PHYSICAL and verbal attacks on Dumfries and Galloway Council staff need to be dealt with swiftly, a councillor argued this week.

Archie Dryburgh, who represents the Annandale East and Eskdale ward, is concerned about an increase in the abuse local authority workers endure from members of the public.

And he is demanding the council introduces a strict zero tolerance policy on any form of abuse — including physical, verbal, sexual, or mental — towards staff and contractors in Dumfries and Galloway.

In a motion he will table at today’s full council, the Labour Councillor wrote: “There has been an increase in abuse being aimed at council service staff across the UK, which includes all areas that are public facing or have a way in which the public can interact with the staff of this council.

“This abuse cannot be tolerated by the council as an employer or as councillors who represent our constituents, the largest amount of our employees are constituents of Dumfries and Galloway.”

Three months ago, Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Andrew Wood highlighted how council staff sent out to monitor the condition of roads and check for dangerous potholes had reportedly been verbally and physically assaulted in the street by angry residents.

And this time last year, North West Dumfries Councillor Paula Stevenson shared serious concerns about staff being attacked in schools after it was revealed that there were 662 violent incidents in our region’s primary schools in 2022/23.

Councillor Dryburgh’s motion, seconded by his colleague, Lochar Councillor Linda Dorward, states: “As an organisation, we should have a zero-tolerance approach for abuse towards our staff.

“We ask our staff to be polite, helpful and sensitive to your needs and circumstances.

“We do not tolerate physical, verbal or written abuse of our staff. Please treat them with respect.

“Aggressive, violent or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and may result in your services being restricted or withheld and, in extreme cases, we may contact Police Scotland.”

Unacceptable behaviour listed includes: using bad language or swearing at council staff, any physical violence such as shoving, verbally insulting individuals, racial abuse and sexual harassment, abusive comments on council social media channels, and verbal abuse over the phone.

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