Council is told to keep record of staff abuse incidents

Scottish Borders Council has been told to keep a record of all incidents of “unacceptable behaviour” towards its workforce – wherever they occur.

The recommendation comes from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) following a probe into a complaint by a member of the public.

The unnamed complainer, referred to as Mr C in the watchdog’s just published report, had alleged that a council officer had barred his entry into a public event at a council facility and, in so doing, had acted “inappropriately”.

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Mr C had asked the SPSO to investigate, claiming he was dissatisfied with the council’s response to his complaint.

“Mr C said they [SBC] had not explained the complaints process to him and they had not interviewed the only independent witness to these events,” states the watchdog.

“We considered the investigation carried out by the council and noted they had given Mr C information about the complaints process and had asked for contact details for his witness by email.

“We noted, however, that one of these emails was returned undelivered as the email address was unrecognised.

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“We were satisfied the council properly investigated the complaint and asked for the witness details which Mr C had not originally provided.

“We also noted that council staff were entitled to take action where they consider they are likely to be subjected to unacceptable behaviour by a member of the public and that this complies with the council’s policy on dignity and respect in the workplace.

“We found no additional evidence to support Mr C’s claim that staff had behaved inappropriately in barring him from the event. For these reasons, we did not uphold his complaint.

“We recommend that they [the council] ensure all incidents of unacceptable behaviour by members of the public towards staff – in council offices or outwith the workplace – are recorded appropriately.”