Cherwell reviews raft of measures to deal with abusive customers from Banbury area

Cherwell’s senior councillors are expected to give the thumbs up to an updated raft of measures to deal with abusive and difficult people.
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The council’s ‘unacceptable and unreasonable behaviour procedure’ has been reviewed and the executive committee is set to approve the new document.

It says staff will not put up with any form of discrimination, shouting, threats, derogatory or obscene remarks, rudeness and recording of telephone conversations or meetings without consent.

Also unacceptable is abusive or aggressive behaviour that could include threatening physical violence or actual physical violence, behaving or using verbal or written language that may cause staff or councillors to feel offended, afraid, threatened or abused; insulting, inflammatory or degrading language or statements; holding personal grudges toward certain staff or councillors and making serious allegations against staff or councillors without any evidence.

Bodicote House where councillors are set to approve a reviewed policy on unacceptable behaviourBodicote House where councillors are set to approve a reviewed policy on unacceptable behaviour
Bodicote House where councillors are set to approve a reviewed policy on unacceptable behaviour

The report says: “We expect our staff and councillors to treat all individuals with respect, fairness and courtesy and we expect to be treated the same way.

“We also have a duty to keep our staff and councillors safe and protect their welfare when carrying out their roles. Where individuals behave in an unacceptable or unreasonable way towards our staff or councillors, we will use this policy. Our staff and councillors have a right to conduct their work free from abuse and aggression.

“We understand that people may act out of character when they are upset or frustrated, but when that escalates to become abuse or aggression towards our staff, we will not accept that.”

The council will also refuse to take an unreasonable amount of time to deal with complaints.

“We are a publicly funded organisation, with limited resources to deliver vital services to our communities. Therefore, there comes a point when a complaint that takes an excessive amount of time to deal with starts to affect the services we provide to others.”

They say unreasonable demands could include insisting on speaking to a more senior member of staff or a particular person when that is not possible, demanding to speak to someone that day and they are not available, demanding responses within an unreasonable deadline or demanding to speak to the CEO or a manager without first speaking to a more junior member of staff who can resolve a query or complaint.

They will also not tolerate anyone refusing to speak to someone based on any characteristic protected under the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation).

“We understand that you may need to contact us to clarify or provide further information so that we can resolve your query or complaints. How often you contact us, how many people you involve, and the duration of each contact can become unacceptable when it impacts our ability to do our job for those, including you, that need our support,” the policy says.

The executive is expected to rubber stamp the reviewed policy at its meeting next Monday. The reviewed document can be seen here.

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