Police data has recently revealed a 13% rise in crime across England and Wales – passing the 5 million mark for the first time in 10 years. Violent crimes such as robbery, stalking, physical and sexual assaults, saw the greatest increase, rising 19% overall.
How could this affect our workforce?
Increased vulnerability for remote and lone workers
As remote and lone working becomes more widespread, employees are increasingly exposed to the risks of violence and aggression. The HSE found that 65% of workers cited ‘dealing with difficult customers, patients and pupils’ as a risk they come across in the workplace, which the HSE highlight as a potential risk in terms of threats and violence. This could be due to several reasons;
- Some lone workers visit clients in their homes dealing with sensitive issues or delivering bad news
- Public service workers often come into contact with people under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- A lone person could be seen as an easier target in theft or assaults
- Many lone workers in the retail or hospitality industries work with large amounts of money, making them vulnerable to robbery
With violent crime rising, more and more remote and lone workers could be finding themselves victims to violence and aggression without additional safety measures in place to protect them.
Increase in fear
Along with an increase in crime statistics, there is also a growing fear over safety across much of the world. In Australia, violent crime has actually seen a reduction year on year (aside from sexual assaults which increased 3.5%) yet there is an overall feeling of fear uncertainty over personal safety.
A survey by The Emigration Group found that in both the UK and Australia, nearly half the number of respondents were worried about crime, and would feel unsafe walking alone at night. Sadly, nearly 30% wouldn’t even feel safe walking alone during daylight hours.
Similar figures can be seen in New Zealand with 39% not feeling safe walking alone after dark, while 50% wouldn’t feel safe waiting for, or using public transport at night. In the US, 55% said they worry a great deal about crime and violence, up 39% from the previous year.
Much of this fear can be explained by the media’s reporting of violent crimes and terror attacks, as well as crime taking a forefront in political discussions. The news is constantly full of sensationalised stories of crime, with the most violent and shocking crimes taking centre stage. This means that even in places where crime is dropping, crime appears to be a common and widespread problem.
Yet this can be incredibly dangerous as fear has a massive impact on mental and physical health, particularly for those who regularly travel and spend time alone. For many, the fear over safety may just be a passing thought but for others, it can affect their entire wellbeing. A fear for personal safety can easily lead to loss of concentration, poor memory, fatigue and even mental health issues such as anxiety.
So what should be done?
Whether or not the rise in fear reflects reality, more needs to be done to create a sense of safety and security for friends, family and colleagues. Fortunately, the recent attention being placed on crime has brought safety to the forefront of people’s minds.
While friends and families look for ways to look out for their loved ones, through safety apps and more reliable communication methods, businesses are also increasingly turning to apps and devices to better protect their employees.
Personal safety apps and devices like StaySafe, provide employees who travel and work alone, with a reliable way to signal for help if their personal safety is under threat. When an alert is triggered either by the employee (or the device if they are unable to trigger an alert), accurate location data is sent to a monitor to ensure assistance can be sent quickly and directly to them.
Knowing that someone is looking out for them, provides security, peace of mind and ultimately increases wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity. This is particularly important for those who work alone as they are more vulnerable to the risks of violence and aggression, and with many lone workers in high-risk industries already having experienced assault, fear and uncertainty is likely to be high.