Number of public disorder offences halves in Tyne and Wear hospitals

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SR News Freedom of Information request has revealed that public disorder offences have more than halved in Tyne and Wear hospitals.

Public disorder offences in hospitals include swearing and verbal abuse towards staff, which has considerably decreased since 2011.

The figures have shown only 26 reported incidents of public disorder in 2014 – down from 69 in 2011.

Trevor Johnston, a spokesman for Unison, a union which has almost half a million members working in the NHS, said: “We are constantly working with NHS trusts to make sure these crimes are reduced.

“Unfortunately, these figures are what we expect.

“Violence in particular has clearly been a problem for years in A & E departments, but you normally find it’s not always the patient, it’s often their friends or relatives.”

Mr Johnston also warned that if these crimes are not cut out, the public will be affected.

He added: “In the end, staff should be protected. The public should appreciate the NHS is a publicly funded provision and the only people who will suffer because of these crimes are the staff and patients.

“Why anyone would want to steal from a hospital, with the shortage of money in the NHS to start with? It is a disgrace…it’s not acceptable anywhere.

“The good news is public disorder offences are coming down due to our initiatives, working with trusts’ management and the police.”

The Royal College of Nursing, another major union for people working in the NHS, also say they provide support to its members to ensure they are protected in the workplace.

A spokesman said: “The only thing we can offer is guidance really. But, at the end of the day, it is the duty of the employers, to ensure the staff are working in a safe environment.”

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Since 2011, there have been 2133 crimes in hospitals in Newcastle, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Gateshead, with almost half of those occurring in Newcastle (928).

Sunderland came second, after seeing 555 crimes, followed by South Tyneside (263) and Gateshead (249).

Sandra Bessford, a spokesperson for Newcastle NHS Trust, said: “There are robust policies and arrangements in place that deal with a range of security matters.

“Some examples of these arrangements include a police presence in A & E at weekends, a professional security team, extensive CCTV coverage, access control measures, alarm systems, incident reporting and investigation measures.

“A range of training activities are provided and all staff who care for, or have direct contact with patients, undertake an updated conflict resolution training package that helps them understand how conflict builds and the employment of de-escalation techniques.

“Where appropriate, the Trust has no hesitation whatsoever in involving the police and to pursue criminal and civil sanctions against those who commit a crime.

“The Newcastle Trust is also placed in the best (lowest) 20 per cent of acute trusts, in terms of staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or the public in last 12 months.”

See full chart here: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/10079136-untitled-infographic
See full chart here: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/10079136-untitled-infographic

In 2011, 206 crimes were reported in Newcastle hospitals – the highest over the five year period – with the quietest year being 2013, where 159 crimes were committed.

Meanwhile, North Tyneside hospitals have experienced the least amount of crime, after only seeing 138 incidents over the last five years.

Northumbria Police, who oversee all of the hospitals in Tyne and Wear, said it is important that these figures “are put into context”.

Neighbourhood Inspector Darren Adams, who covers Newcastle City Centre, said: “We work very closely with the NHS and hospital security staff to ensure hospitals remain safe places for patients, visitors and staff and in Newcastle.

“We run Operation Cosmic, which sees police officers providing a visible presence during peak times at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).

“It’s important that these figures are put into context when compared with the number of people who use the hospital on a daily basis, as the hospital is a huge establishment with thousands of staff, patients and visitors and it is only a very few minority who will be affected by crime.”

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