A CAMPAIGN to tackle abuse towards staff at Shropshire's leisure facilities has been launched.

Shropshire Community Leisure Trust (SCLT) joined up with operating partner Serco’s Respect and Protect campaign, a zero tolerance policy towards any violence, aggression or abuse directed against staff delivering front-line local services.

The event, held at Oswestry Leisure Centre on Friday, September 6, was attended by representatives from Shropshire Council, West Mercia Police and team members from across SCLT’s leisure centres.

The Respect and Protect campaign was successfully piloted last year when Serco and Sandwell Council in the West Midlands joined unions and police in a unified approach to reduce the increasing number of assaults, threats, abusive and insulting behaviour by members of the public towards council workers.

Chris Stanbrook, contract manager for SCLT, believes it is now time to have a 'zero tolerance' policy when it comes to abuse.

“We want our teams to know that every incident of verbal or physical abuse has to be reported," he said.

"And we want those making these threats or carrying out these acts to know that we will support our people all the way and, where necessary, involve enforcement agencies.

“In 2017 and 2018, across the SCLT contract, we had fewer than 10 documented incidents in each of those years.

"However, we are always vigilant to the fact that people may not have reported the event, shrugging it off as part of the job. We want it made clear, this kind of anti-social behaviour is never just part of the job.

"We want to see every single instance of verbal or physical abuse directed towards our staff reported, investigated and dealt with in the appropriate manner.”

Officer Paul Downes of West Mercia Police, added: “West Mercia Police Force fully support Serco’s important Respect and Protect campaign, and we can only reiterate what Chris has said, and urge people to report incidents and never to suffer in silence.”