Following recent high-profile cases of violence and aggression against publicly elected officials, the Local Government Association (LGA) engaged Autrac to conduct national research into the support offered by councils to their officials while carrying out their activities within the community.
Councillors fulfil a vital role in local communities. They often work closely with their residents, connect with, and hear concerns from their locality.
This comes with the natural risks associated with regular engagement with the public. The LGA recognised a gap in understanding around how councils can support their councillors with assessing and mitigating the risk of abuse and aggression by members of the public.
To address this, Autrac supported the LGA in carrying out a national research exercise by contacting key authorities across the political spectrum to understand their support offers to officials working in the community.
Autrac collected evidence and national data using primary and secondary research methods. Local authority workshops and engagement exercises were held, in which safety approaches with key individuals were discussed, and this information guided the overall research.
Many areas of good practice were uncovered across the country, with authorities adapting national guidance to their local challenges, resulting in a wide range of practical solutions to support safe working in the community.
Case studies were created, highlighting areas of exceptional practice in those local authorities.
In addition to this local authority engagement, Autrac engaged with independent councillors to understand the challenges when working without the support of a specific political party.
The case studies – published on the LGA website – presented the excellent work local authorities do to promote safe working within the community.
The published case studies are an opportunity for authorities to learn from best practices and raise awareness of the local challenges elected officials to face.
The availability of the case studies will encourage authorities to collaborate, learn, and provide information to help ensure safe community working practices.
Seeing the range of successful approaches to working safely in the community was encouraging.
It is essential to adequately risk assess safety whilst working in the community, fully considering the local nuances of each community and environment.
There isn’t one ‘silver bullet’ to guarantee safety for elected members, but providing a variety of safety methods and ensuring they are fully understood can significantly reduce the risks to personal safety.