According to statistics, hundreds of attacks on Jobcentre employees could have been prevented by scrapping face-to-face appointments in the pandemic.

The number of physical assaults on employees was 89 percent lower in 2020/21 when Jobcentre opening hours were restricted and face-to face appointments were replaced by virtual ones. 

According to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), there were 27 incidents against Jobcentre workers in 2020-21.  

This compares to the pre-pandemic numbers of 257 assaults in 2018/19 and 242 in 2019/20. 

Brendan Cole, 19, threatened a female member of staff at the Jobcentre in Belle Vale, Liverpool, before stabbing a security guard who intervened in defence of his colleague

The Jobcentre Plus in Belle Vale, Liverpool, where a security guard was stabbed in the back by a claimant wielding a large carving knife on October 7 2019

Recent statistics show a drastic drop in attacks on Jobcentre staff between 2020/21 and the period before pandemic. This is likely to be due to remote work. In one harrowing incident on October 7 2019, Brendan Cole (pictured), 19, stabbed a Jobcentre security guard in the back with a large carving knife at a Jobcentre Plus in Belle Vale, Liverpool

A Jobcentre in Horfield, Bristol, which had 70 windows smashed by a claimant who went on a rampage with a claw hammer after staff told the 53-year-old he would have to travel to Bath to discuss his benefits

After staff informed the 53-year old that he had to go to Bath, he smashed 70 windows at a Horfield Jobcentre, Bristol.

On October 7, 2019, a security officer was stabbed in his back using a large carving blade while at work at the Jobcentre Plus Belle Vale in Liverpool.

When a teenage girl threatened staff members, the security guard in his 40s intervened.

According to Merseyside police, Brendan Cole (19 years old) was sentenced for his attack on a security guard. He suffered a’serious but not-life-threatening injury’ to the back. 

There were 499 attacks on Jobcentre employees in 2018/19, 2019/20. 83 of these assaults resulted only in minor injuries, and 17 caused more severe injury. 

These data are derived from a MailOnline Freedom of Information Request sent to the DWP.

Charlotte Hughes volunteers at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. She also runs The Poor Side of Life blog.

Charlotte Hughes, a volunteer outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, said she feared staff assaults would continue to rise once appointments were moved back to face to face appointments due to claimants' frustration with the Universal Credit system

Charlotte Hughes, a volunteer outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, said she feared staff assaults would continue to rise once appointments were moved back to face to face appointments due to claimants’ frustration with the Universal Credit system

“No Jobcentre employees are being assaulted by claimants, but they feel frustrated and angry at the way the system treats them. 

“They don’t know how to express themselves in another way.”

“Jobcentre employees have the right of working in a safe environment, but I worry that staff assaults will increase until the DWP Universal Credit system is changed to a more understanding system.

After being informed that he had to go to Bath Jobcentre for benefits discussions, a 53 year-old claimant went on a wild rampage at Horfield Jobcentre. 

Mark King, who was jailed for 24 months, caused £30,000 of damage to the Jobcentre on Monks Park Avenue, Bristol. 

At the Ebbw Vale Jobcentre in Wales, members of staff were grabbed and threatened with a knife by a man who said ‘you’re all going to have it if you don’t give me my money’.

Ian Littlewood, 47, became violent during an appointment on November 24 2017 after he was told his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) would be stopped as he had failed to attend a medical appointment.

Ian Littlewood, 47, pulled out a knife after being denied benefits, telling staff 'you're all going to have it if you don't give me my money'

Ebbw Vale Jobcentre in Wales, where staff were threatened by a knife-wielding claimant in November 2017

Ebbw Vale Jobcentre staff received threats of a knife from Ian Littlewood in November 2017, who (pictured) warned that they all would have it if he didn’t give him my money.

Anne Kinnear’s victim statement reads: “He grabbed me right shoulder, and I was scared because the knife wasn’t far away. 

“I was curious to know where he would put it.” I feared for my life and wanted to back away but I couldn’t.’   

Littlewood was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to 34 months imprisonment.

A spokesperson for DWP claimed that department takes safety and security of staff, contractors, visitors and volunteers very seriously.

They continued: ‘We have robust control measures in place to minimise and mitigate all incidents of Unacceptable Customer Behaviour including Actual Physical Assault – and we encourage staff to report any incident that may have caused or have the potential to cause harm both physical and mentally. 

“These numbers should be viewed in context of millions of face-to-face interactions with customers each year that occur without incident in our Jobcentres.