Biting, kicking, punching and swearing – these are just some of the examples of physical and verbal abuse experienced by staff employed by Richmond Council.

A Freedom of Information Request sent by the Local Democracy Reporting Service showed that there have been 186 cases of verbal and physical abuse on council staff from 2016 to October 2019.

There was an even divide between verbal and physical abuse, with 93 cases each over the period. 

So far this year there have been 52 recorded incidents of abuse, where 38 were physical.

It shows an increase in physical abuse in the borough from less than a quarter in 2016 to almost three quarters in 2019.

At Collis Primary School alone there have been 20 incidents of abuse this year. Most involved staff members being kicked, punched or even bitten. 

Stanley Primary School and Hampton Hill Primary School have also seen a number of similar incidents in the period –  in some cases drawing blood. 

In one case at Hampton Hill a staff member was punched, kicked and grabbed round the head before being bitten on left arm by pupil, while another was scratched so hard their arm began to bleed.

Pools on the Park has seen 10 incidents since 2016, one of which involved a customer headbutting a lifeguard, and another where a member of staff was punched in the stomach.

The civic centre has also seen its fair share of problems, including a frightening incident where a member of the public threatened staff with violence by referring to a weapon being concealed in their bag.

Two social workers were also punched and kicked when attempting a home visit, while staff members at East Sheen Library were “inappropriately touched” by a member of the public.

A Richmond Council spokesperson said: “Richmond council does not tolerate verbal and physical abuse towards its staff and has a number of staff safety polices that are regularly reviewed to ensure the safety of all staff and customers whilst on council property or carrying out council duties. As such, the council has a number of measures in place to keep its staff safe.”

 It said it provides: 

Staff training in de-escalation techniques and conflict resolution training is provided where appropriate

Staff are members of Safety Working Groups where issues can be raised and solutions agreed upon

The Civic Centre has panic alarms

The Civic Centre has CCTV

Emergency services are called when appropriate

Accident / Incident reporting and follow up action on cases

However, the spokesperson added that schools in the borough operate their own staff and health and safety procedures.