§ Ms Blears
The Government take a very serious view of violence in the workplace and are pursuing a range of action to combat it.
In March 2000 the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) embarked on a three-year programme to help employers, including those in the public sector, to tackle assaults on staff, with the aim of reducing the number of incidents of violence at work. So far the programme has resulted in the publication of new guidance specifically aimed at small businesses, the development of new National Occupational Standards on work-related violence, a programme of inspections in the health care sector, and new research to establish good practice for lone workers, including those in the public sector.
Health and Safety Executive officials are now evaluating this programme and will be submitting written proposals to the HSC on the next stage (2003–06) later this year.671W
Assaulting a public sector worker in the course of his or her duty is an extremely serious matter, as reflected in guidelines issued by the Magistrates' Association in September 2000 (and amended in July 2001). The guidelines already make it clear that, if the assault is against an individual serving the public, this should be considered as an aggravating factor.
We have no current plans to introduce a specific offence of assaulting a public sector worker.