Would you know what to do if a service user, becomes aggressive and threatening?
by Jim O'Dwyer, Aegis Protective Services
For some people, the process of being ‘helped’ back to work (and off welfare benefits) can provoke strong emotions and feelings of intense anxiety and desperation which, in turn, can lead to them behaving aggressively and violently towards staff, other service users, property and even self-harming. For example, at 4:30pm on 9th September 2015, a man doused himself in petrol and threatened to set fire to himself at Ashton Jobcentre, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester.
Government figures reveal a UK wide trend of escalating violence towards employability services staff.
In January 2014, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) reported that attacks on JobCentre staff had more than doubled with hundreds of incidents of either verbal or physical assaults happening every month.
The severity of the risk makes it essential that employability professionals take appropriate precautions.
Nowadays, most employability organisations will have developed a specific policy on ‘Violence at Work’ that both acknowledges the risks and declares a commitment to take ‘all reasonable and practicable steps’ to minimise them.
The policy document will usually set out how the organisation’s policy aims are to be achieved and describe the various ‘risk controls’ (e.g. a Reporting System and a requirement that staff report any safety concerns early – so that any problem can be addressed by management) and also detail the various safety procedures (e.g. for meeting ‘higher risk’ Service Users, handling cash/valuables, lone working, working in the community).
It’s essential employability professionals are familiar with their organisation’s policy and ensure that their conduct always complements their employer’s expectations.
A key component of any violence prevention initiative will be staff training.
It’s fundamental that employees are aware of the risks; understand how best to prevent violence; and know what to do and how to behave in the event that aggression surfaces.
Aggression Awareness & Prevention is an IEP endorsed training course designed specifically for ‘front-line’ employability professionals. The learning develops individual and team capability to proactively reduce risk, recognise warning signs and implement proven ‘talk down’ strategies to successfully de-escalate and resolve conflicts before they can develop into violence.
Delegates also practice and have fun learning a range of protective practical skills including how to reduce opportunity for physical assault to initiate during interactions and how to deflect blows and escape to safety if attacked.
If you would like more information about this course, please contact Jim O'Dwyer, AEGIS Protective Services
T: 01202 773736 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.aegisprotectiveservices.co.uk