Petition launched to protect social workers from verbal and physical assault at work

Social workers often face threats, verbal and physical harassment and assault, and they deserve the same protections as other frontline emergency workers, BASW says.

12/04/21

Petition launched to protect social workers from verbal and physical assault at work

A petition has been launched calling on the Government to add social workers to the list of professions protected in law from assault.

Launched by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers Union (SWU), asks the Government and Opposition to back an amendment to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill which would give social workers in England and Wales the same protections from assault whilst on duty that other public sector professionals have.

At the time of writing, the petition has 6,560 signatures, just 3,440 shy of the 10,000 needed to force the Government to respond.

Should it reach 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

The Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill is currently going through Westminster and enhances the Assaults on Emergency Workers (2018) Act, which creates an additional offence to assault some frontline emergency workers, including paramedics and those who work in the fire service.

Social workers were not included in the 2018 Act, and BASW says the new bill provides the opportunity for Parliament to put that right.

“Social workers are entitled to parity of esteem with other public sector professionals such as health workers in the NHS. This is not an attempt to penalise those individuals who are genuinely vulnerable but a protection for social workers knowing that they enjoy the same legal status as other professionals in similar situations,” BASW says on its website.

“While BASW remains opposed to many aspects of the Bill, we also think all social workers deserve to feel safe at work, and that is what we’re campaigning for.”

The Bill contains a number of proposed changes to legislation, including one controversial amendment strengthening police powers to tackle non-violent protests – the subject of the recent protests in Bristol.

BASW also says the proposals would impact the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community by criminalising unauthorised encampments without providing sufficient authorised sites, would be a severe breach of their human rights and falls to recognise their identity and culture.

MPs can submit amendments to the content of the Bill at the Committee stage in May, and those amendments can then debated and voted on. BASW says this amendment stage is an opportunity to “use our voice” to influence the contents of the legislation, and seek to improve it.

Sign the petition or view its progress here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/580431

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