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Canterbury City Council staff face regular violence and abuse from the public

By Gerry Warren

The shocking level of violence and abuse faced by city council staff from the public has been revealed this week.

In one of the latest incidents, a man hurled a computer monitor and chair at housing support staff who were trying to help him.

Homeless Patrick Weller, 31, admitted damaging property at the Military Road offices and was jailed for 18 weeks for the offence and for damaging a police cell when he appeared before magistrates last month.

Canterbury City Council enforcement officers
Canterbury City Council enforcement officers

The court heard he had threatened to wrap a computer monitor around their heads before throwing it towards them, followed by a chair.

The incident was condemned by council chief executive Colin Carmichael who said: "Council staff come to work determined to help people and do not deserve to be attacked or verbally abused for simply doing their job.

"This incident left our officers shocked, shaken and distressed. We take a zero-tolerance approach to attacks on our staff and those who behave in this way can be certain there will be consequences."

He said the staff most at risk of violence and abuse were the council enforcement officers, who suffered 13 serious incidents last year.

On the same day Weller was arrested, a builder threatened to kill an enforcement officer in Canterbury’s Rosemary Lane car park.

Canterbury City Council offices
Canterbury City Council offices

In February 2017, a man issued with a fixed penalty notice for littering in Canterbury’s St Radigund’s car park drove his car at an enforcement officer, threatened him and stole his radio

In August, a man was given a two-month prison sentence suspended for two years and a year-long curfew after punching an enforcement officer in the face in an unprovoked attack in Station Road West, Canterbury.

In October, a driver stormed out of the Carpenters Arms pub in Tower Way, Canterbury, and shoved a parking ticket into an enforcement officer’s back before trying to hit him with his car door.

In November, a man apologised after being spoken to by the police after unleashing a tirade of verbal abuse on an officer in Little Charles Street, Herne Bay.

Later the same month, an enforcement officer was subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse and common assault after asking a driver to move on from a loading bay. The driver apologised after being spoken to by police.

Canterbury City Council chief executive Colin Carmichael
Canterbury City Council chief executive Colin Carmichael

Mr Carmichael said: “Many people think our enforcement officers are fair game especially when commenting on social media.

"What they fail to realise is the team is dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone in the district and tackling some of our most-complained about issues.

"They tackle littering, try to catch the vandals who daub graffiti and try to prosecute the flytippers who spoil our countryside.

"At the same time, parked cars that break the rules have a huge impact on other motorists by causing congestion, creating danger in and around the school gates, stopping buses getting through, and could pose a serious problem for the emergency services who are racing on blue lights to save lives."

He added: "If you don’t want a ticket, don’t be antisocial and don’t break the rules."

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