THERE were 5,185 incidents of violence and aggression towards Fife Council workers in the past year and the vast majority of those on the receiving end were teachers and school staff. 

And councillors were told all the evidence points to the numbers going up, with a large jump from the 3,745 incidents in 2022-23. 

In response to a question at the full council meeting on Thursday, Cllr Cara Hilton, the education spokesperson said there were 5,185 'violence, aggression and threat' incidents in 2023-24 and 4,444 (86 per cent) were in schools. 

She said all staff are encouraged to report every incident and added: "There is evidence, from the council’s health and safety event recording system, that reported violence, aggression and threat incidents are increasing.”

Dunfermline Press: Teachers in Fife are having to try and deal with escalating levels of violence, aggression and threat in the classroom. Teachers in Fife are having to try and deal with escalating levels of violence, aggression and threat in the classroom. (Image: Newsquest)

It's been suggested that escalating levels of physical and verbal abuse in the classrooms has led to a drop in attendance and a rise in the number of children being schooled at home. 

Cllr Margaret Kennedy, who raised the issue, said: "The wider community and media have highlighted concerns in relation to violence in schools with thousands of violent incidents against council and school workers taking place in the UK since 2015. 

READ MORE: Attendance in Fife schools is below the national average

“Additionally Unison, nationally, have raised concern that their research has identified that workers in UK councils or schools are 75 per cent more likely to be a victim of violence at work than other workers.” 

That trend has held true in Fife. Incidents of violence and aggression are on the rise across the board for all council staff, but most of the trouble is in schools.

Cllr Hilton said: “We know that the nature of the services we provide may occasionally place employees at increased risk from verbal abuse, intimidating behaviour or physical violence. 

“All forms of violence, aggression and threat towards colleagues are unacceptable.

"Fife Council is committed to a violence reduction hierarchy based on elimination, reduction and control.” 

To support this, she said there was a range of supporting guidance which focuses on reducing workplace violence and risk assessment.

“Violence and abuse should never be part of the job and it should have no place in our classrooms,” Cllr Hilton concluded. 

“I can assure Cllr Kennedy we are taking all steps possible – working alongside our trade unions, our staff and young people – to ensure that our schools and every council workplace are safe and welcoming places to be for staff and for our children and young people.”