Coronavirus: Council workers assaulted with one left with broken leg while working during lockdown

28 March 2020, 13:03

File photo: Council workers have been abused while doing their jobs amid the lockdown
File photo: Council workers have been abused while doing their jobs amid the lockdown. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Council workers have been verbally and physically assaulted while working during the coronavirus lockdown, leaving one officer with a broken leg.

Officers - including park groundskeepers, civil enforcement officers and community safety patrol officers - have been pushed, spat on and sworn at as they carry out their duties during the Covid-19 crisis.

A community safety patrol officer had his leg broken after a cyclist rode into him in Southend High Street.

The incident was caught on CCTV and police are investigating, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council said.

Meanwhile, Swindon Borough Council reported that staff at its household waste recycling centre had been "spat and sworn at" last weekend, when the site was restricted to essential recycling only.

We’re sad to report that some of our staff working at the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) were spat and sworn at...

Posted by Swindon Borough Council on Monday, 23 March 2020

In a post on Facebook, the council said: "This behaviour isn't acceptable at any time, not least in the current circumstances."

The Local Government Association (LGA) said there had been a number of "sickening physical and verbal assaults" on workers and called on the public to respect the "tireless efforts" of council staff.

It acknowledged that "emotions and tensions are running high" during the Covid-19 pandemic but said workers had been spat and sworn at, shoved by members of the public and racially abused.

Councillor James Jamieson, chairman of the LGA, said: "Local government workers should always be respected and valued - even more so in these challenging times - when they are needed more than ever.

"It is becoming increasingly concerning to hear that local government workers are being subjected to physical and verbal abuse as they try and play their part in keeping the country running through this crisis.

"This is unacceptable, and it has to stop."

Elsewhere, inquiries are ongoing to locate a suspect after a member of staff was racially abused in a hate crime "linked to the coronavirus" outside a council building in Bristol.

Avon and Somerset Police said officers were called to council offices in Temple Street shortly after 2pm on March 20.

A man had been racially abusive to a member of staff and had left the building by the time officers arrived.

The victim is being supported and investigations are ongoing, the force added.