VIOLENCE towards its staff remains a “significant concern” to the borough council, despite a recorded drop in such incidents last year.

In the year 2016/17, frontline Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) staff were verbally abused 48 times with five threats or assaults made to patrol staff.

This is down on figures of 48 and nine respectively in 2015/16, according to a BDBC report discussed at a meeting of its Human Resources Committee on Monday, 4 September.

The report states: “Violence and abuse to frontline staff remains a significant concern to the council.”

Of the five threats or assaults made, one resulted in a court conviction, one led to the person being disciplined by his employer and another person receiving a warning letter from the council for unacceptable behaviour.

The report adds the introduction of body-worn cameras, in January last year, to be worn by community safety patrolling officers and civil enforcement officers in parking, resulted in a ‘significant’ reduction in violent threats and incidents to staff who felt the cameras and speech capture equipment acted as deterrents to abuse and attack.

BDBC executive director of borough services Rebecca Emmett said: “We have a responsibility for the safety of our staff and we take that responsibility very seriously. Our staff are committed to going above and beyond for residents and they should be able to come to work without fear of violence, abuse or harassment from the public.

“A few of our frontline staff have panic buttons and others have smartphones fitted with lone worker apps to help keep them safe.

“The introduction of body worn cameras for our parking attendants and community safety patrol officers has been hugely successful. Our staff have reported that situations are far less likely to escalate if filming is taking place.

“These recordings mean that officers are more likely to report incidents, meaning that they can be properly investigated where necessary.

“Evidence from these cameras has been used to secure prosecutions against individuals who have been violent to members of council staff.”