Murder fuels dispute over job centre security

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The murder of a claimant at a Benefits Agency office led to renewed calls last night for the Government to end plans to remove staff security screens.

The 25-year-old woman was stabbed twice in the back and once in the chest as she was being interviewed at the Benefits Agency office in Upton, near Slough, Berkshire, yesterday.

Detectives were reported to believe the woman had been followed by the attacker from her home in nearby Windsor.

Last night the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents more than 100 of the office's 160 staff, said the attack demonstrated the need for the screens. Members of the union staged a 48-hour national strike last month over the issue.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it would continue with its plans to provide "unscreened environments" when it starts to merge the functions of 2,000 job centres and benefits offices in April.