Assaults on job centre staff rises in recession

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The Independent Online

More than 1,000 staff at Jobcentre Plus offices around the country are being abused, threatened or assaulted every month.

The increasing tendency of recession-hit job seekers to vent their frustration on staff employed to help them was denounced yesterday as "shocking" by the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May.

Figures obtained by the Conservatives from the Government show that in 2008-9, there were 13,378 assaults on staff reported by Jobcentre Plus. Of these, 12,188 were verbal, 896 were attempted violent assaults, and 294 were actual assaults.

"These are shocking figures. Jobcentre staff are doing their best in very difficult circumstances with centres coming under increasing pressure because of rising benefit claims during the recession," Ms May said.

Work and Pension minister Jonathan Shaw said the department takes the safety of its staff seriously.

He added: "We have introduced a 'zero tolerance' approach to unacceptable behaviour, encouraging staff to report all incidents, however minor."