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London borough fined £100,000 after social workers assaulted

A local authority has been fined £100,000 after two of its social workers were assaulted on a home visit by the mother of a vulnerable child they were visiting.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 3 July 2015, two social workers employed by Brent Council visited the home of a vulnerable child to carry out a child safety plan assessment.

While note-taking, both social workers were struck over the head with a metal object by the mother, resulting in one of them being knocked temporarily unconscious. While both received serious wounds to the head, the social worker knocked unconscious was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the local authority failed to follow its corporate lone working policy or violence and aggression guidance.

No risk assessment had been completed and staff were not trained accordingly, the HSE said.

Brent also failed to add an aggression marker to make the social workers aware of the hazards posed by the mother who was known to have a history of violence.

The council pleaded guilty of breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, section 2(1) and were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,918.88

HSE inspector Neil Fry said: “Violent and aggressive incidents are the third biggest cause of injuries reported to HSE from the health and social care sector.

“The local authority in this case failed to adhere to and implement its own systems and procedure for the management of lone working and violence and aggression against social workers. This risk could have been reduced in a number of ways including carrying out the visit in a controlled environment, such as the local social workers’ office.”

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