PHYSICAL and verbal abuse of Clacks Council staff were more prevalent than slips, trips and falls last year.

Health and safety figures detailing the types of accidents and incidents in 2018-19 revealed that shockingly, a third of all cases related to physical assault of staff.

Verbal abuse accounted for 13 per cent of all incidents in the same time period while slips and falls were the cause of 12 per cent of cases reported.

This means that physical and verbal assault combined accounted for nearly half of all the 187 cases reported and as detailed elsewhere, it is likely that there was an underreporting of all incidents across council services.

The findings were presented at last week’s Audit Committee meeting where convener Councillor Dave Clark, a former social worker himself, said he has “zero tolerance” of abuse against staff.

He urged the health and safety team to “protect colleagues” and report such incidents to police, adding: “Don’t just say it’s part of the job.”

Council leader Cllr Ellen Forson acknowledged the difficulties faced by frontline staff, adding that elected representatives themselves can receive a “fair bit of abuse”, suggesting there should be health and safety guidance for councillors as well in that regard.