Page last updated at 00:38 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Housing officers 'under attack'

Housing estate in Derbyshire
The Tories blame "appalling" shortages for the figures

Physical and verbal attacks take place on housing officers in England and Wales more than once a day, research by the Conservatives suggests.

Local authorities reported a total of almost 1,200 incidents over the last three years, including some involving attacks using animals.

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said this was the result of an "appalling" housing crisis.

His gained freedom of information responses from 184 councils.

Fewer houses and flats classed as social housing were built in every year between 1997 and 2007, compared to any year under the Conservatives between 1979 and 1997, said Mr Shapps.

'Worrying'

He said this helped explain why 1,770,116 households - around 4.5 million people - were on local authorities' housing waiting lists in England last year.

Mr Shapps said: "Nothing can ever justify violence against employees who are being forced to cope with this government's appalling record of high housing waiting lists.

"I'm concerned because these results reveal a very worrying level of violence towards housing officers who find themselves on the front line of Labour's deepening housing crisis."

A total of 1,196 incidents were reported by 184 English and Welsh councils against housing officers, who are responsible for managing local authority and housing association properties.

The officers allocate accommodation, set rents and deal with arrears, inspect properties and deal with anti-social behaviour and squatters.

Of the incidents against them, 796 were physical assaults and 400 cases of verbal intimidation.

The highest numbers of physical assaults were recorded in Cambridge (69 assaults), Hull (45), Gwynedd (44), Leicester (32) and Westminster (31), according to figures released by Mr Shapps.

The most cases of verbal abuse were recorded in Stockport (63), Kingston upon Thames (57), Dudley (44) and the London Borough of Sutton (44).



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