Violence and abuse towards rubbish collectors in Peterborough could lead to prosecution as part of a zero tolerance approach.
A new campaign is aiming to protect workers after a reported rise of swearing and threats against them.
Amey, which is contracted by Peterborough City Council for street cleaning services, said there has been a 35 per cent rise in violent and aggressive incidents towards its employees over the past year.
The majority of these incidents have been aimed at refuse loaders and drivers.
Examples reported by Amey staff include a resident poking one of them in the chest after their bin was rejected due to contamination, then shouting and swearing in their face.
Some residents demanded to know “why they pay their council tax” after being left frustrated by the collection service. And one person, when told that not all of his 15 to 20 excess black bin bags could be taken away, allegedly became very angry, took his jacket off threatening the loader, then said he was a gypsy and not to be messed with him.
Councillor Gavin Elsey, cabinet member for digital, waste services and street scene at Peterborough City Council, which is backing the ‘this is my workplace’ campaign, said: “Working with Amey, the council supports the zero tolerance of this type of behaviour and will whole-heartedly back outcomes of aggressive behaviour including prosecution.”
In January 2015, five incidents of violent and aggressive behaviour towards Amey employees were reported in Peterborough. For January 2016, that total jumped to 14 incidents.
The campaign will see a series of posters depicting staff in their workplace - from loading bins to planting shrubs in parks - displayed across the city, while some operational vehicles will be branded to include the campaign message.
Operational staff will also distribute cards to aggressive members of the public to calm volatile situations, explaining the need for their cooperation and the company’s stance on zero tolerance.
Kieron King, principal operations manager from Amey on the Peterborough contract, said: “We hope this campaign will not only increase employee awareness of reporting incidents and responding to them in the appropriate manner, but demonstrate that Amey will not tolerate this behaviour towards our employees.”