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Expert Argues Body Armour Can Help Protect Frontline Housing Staff

Written by: Robert Kaiser

Council Flats
Council Flats

Frontline housing officers have always been at potential risk of verbal abuse and physical violence from members of the public.

Robert Kaiser, CEO of UK based PPSS Group now argues that body armour can help reduce the risk of such officer being injured following a physical assault:

“Frontline housing officers carry out a range of highly sensitive work, such as collecting rent arrears and dealing with anti-social behaviour and sometimes very forceful neighbour disputes. They often are the bearer of bad news, perhaps turning down a housing application, or a request for a repair which is the resident’s responsibility.”

“The question we need to answer is what can and should be done to create the highest possible chance of these housing officers coming home unharmed at the end of the shift?

In a survey of 200 social landlords carried out by the Chartered Institute of Housing’s journal Inside Housing, a shocking total of 8,898 assaults on front-line housing staff were reported between January 2009 and April 2012. Please take a moment and read all about this very interesting survey and story: “All in a day’s work”

In case you are just as busy as I am, here is a very small ‘chunk’ of this great article:

“The research also reveals the number of assaults that occurred between January 2009 and the end of March this year. There were 8,898 verbal and physical assaults reported by housing staff of the 223 organisations that responded to our requests – roughly eight a day across the UK.

Around 1,350 of those assaults against housing staff were physical attacks – more than one a day – with the remainder involving verbal abuse. Perhaps most worryingly, the number recorded has been rising year-on-year. In 2011, landlords reported 2,480 verbal assaults, which was a 13 per cent increase on the number logged in 2010. There was an even larger jump in the number of physical attacks recorded: 483 physical assaults were reported in 2011 – a 35 per cent rise on the previous year.”

Additional Survey Results:

Please do not think this is not a UK ‘exclusive’ problem. The following are just two news snips highlighting identical problems in other countries:

There are a number of reasons a widely reported increase of assaults on frontline housing staff. Firstly, there is increased pressure on residents as a result of the global financial crisis and the difficult financial situation many are in. This causes stress, which, some people express via verbally and physically aggressive action towards anyone who they perceive as being unhelpful or ‘not understanding enough’.
Housing Managers, led by the Health & Safety Managers, will conduct internal surveys, revaluate risk assessments, potentially make lone worker security devices available and stress the importance of really good training in conflict management and conflict resolution.

“I personally feel very strongly that all of the above is truly essential, especially efficient and effective training delivered by someone who REALLY knows what he/she is going on about is just crucial”, Robert Kaiser states.

“We need to understand that a lack of adequate safety measures can put an individual at unnecessary risk, and cause unacceptable injury or harm. Body armour have therefore regrettably become a real necessity within Housing Associations and are worn by frontline housing staff in several countries”.
“Body Armour that offer the highest level of protection from edged weapon, hypodermic needles and blunt force trauma make sense… FULL STOP”!

“The risk of being shot or stabbed is not as high as some news might want to make us believe.  However, the risk of someone ‘overreacting’ to you or your colleagues disconnecting the water, gas or oil supply, the risk of someone taking aggressive physical action against you because YOU are trying to collect money/rent that person is not willing to hand over, or the risk of some ‘overreacting’ and willing to harm you simply because you are not willing or unable to solve their long lasting dispute with their much hated neighbour is REAL!”

“When such situation arises and when such person is calling you all the ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ words in the world and is throwing the first punch… body armour can make a real difference.”

Body armour will allow the wearer to focus entirely on two objectives… escape or defence!
Body armour will take care of the wearer’s vital organs, his heart, his lungs and his kidney… and everything else within his rib cage.

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