Is there much violence at work?

Although the number of violent incidents at work has declined over the last decade, the incident rate has not decreased over the last five years. Findings from the 2014/15 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show:

  • An estimated 1.2% of working adults were the victims of one or more violent incidents at work;
  • 285,000 adults of working age in employment experienced work-related violence including threats and physical assault;
  • There were an estimated 569,000 incidents of violence at work: 308,000 assaults and 261,000 threats;
  • 1.1% of women and 1.3% of men were victims of violence at work once or more during the year prior to their interview;
  • It is estimated that 58% of victims reported one incident of work-related violence while 20% experienced two incidents and 21% experienced three or more incidents;
  • Strangers were the offenders in 54% of cases of workplace violence. Among the 46% of incidents where the offender was known, the offenders were most likely to be clients or a member of the public known through work; and
  • 42% per cent of violence at work resulted in physical injury. Minor bruising or a black eye accounted for the majority of the injuries recorded.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) 2016 Retail Crime survey, published in 2017, showed that violence and abuse towards retail staff rose by 40% in a year. Not only has the incidence of violence against staff increased significantly, the biggest increase was in aggressive and abusive behaviour. In 2015-16, there were 51 incidents of violence and abuse per 1,000 staff (up from 41 last year).   

Surveys by shopworkers’ union USDAW conducted in 2016 as part of its ongoing Freedom from Fear campaign found that over half of shopworkers were verbally abused in the last year, with more than 10% on a weekly or daily basis; 30% were threatened with violence and over 2% were assaulted.

As part of its campaign USDAW is supporting a new Protection of Workers Bill, which aims to reduce violence, threats and abuse against workers whose jobs bring them into face-to-face contact with members of the public. If it becomes law, the Bill will create a new offence relating to assaults on public-facing workers, with a maximum sentence of 12 months and a £10,000 fine.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.