Be StreetKind to help tackle abuse of frontline workers

7 December 2021

A new StreetKind campaign to tackle abuse of street cleansing teams and frontline workers has been launched by Veolia with the support of the Council.

The campaign will highlight the rise in abuse, as well as raising awareness that violence of any kind will not be tolerated and could lead to criminal prosecution.

The past year has seen a rise in waste crews reporting abuse across the UK, with a 118% increase compared to the same period last year. With the return of high-street businesses, the night-time economy and increase road use, there has been a surge in reported incidences.

The StreetKind campaign will thank residents and visitors to the borough who recognise the hard work and daily commitment of all frontline staff and council workers.

Bad behaviour and abuse will not be tolerated and although the majority of people are respectful and kind to frontline staff, there has been a rise in the serious cases of physical and verbal abuse. Veolia operates a zero tolerance policy and will seek criminal prosecutions wherever these incidents occur.

The campaign builds on previous Veolia initiatives focusing on building a safe workplace and includes a comprehensive training programme to support staff to diffuse situations, handle instances effectively and how and when to involve the police.

Councillor Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment at Brent Council, said:

“Physical violence or abusive language aimed at frontline staff or our key worker teams, as they carry out their daily tasks, will not be tolerated and could lead to a criminal prosecution for the offender.

“We want people to recognise that kindness and being a little more patient is helpful to everyone if they encounter a challenging situation involving council staff.

“The StreetKind Campaign aims to highlight that the majority of residents and visitors to the borough appreciate the hard work and commitment of our frontline workers and show this, by being respectful and kind when they encounter our key workers.”

Beth Whittaker, Chief Human Resources Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland said:

“I talk to our people on a regular basis and they are passionate about their work and their teams, but hearing their stories of abuse, especially in the last six months, has been increasingly distressing. No one should be abused simply for doing their job and we’re determined to combat this unacceptable trend.

“As well as appealing to the public to show their appreciation for our teams, we are also focusing on training and support for our employees to respond to incidents. We will take the most serious action for the most serious attacks, including criminal prosecutions, in order to build a safer workplace environment for our colleagues.”

StreetKind will thank the majority of the public for respecting staff and ask them to show their appreciation now and again with a smile or a wave. It also aims to raise public understanding about the abuse suffered by key workers since the pandemic, stabilise incident reporting to ensure the problem is accurately represented and increase prosecutions for the worst offenders.

StreetKind will roll out across the country and will be localised to each area. In Brent, the focus will be on collection rounds and street cleansing teams, where incidents are most likely to occur.