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Added: 1 February 2023
We are seeing a sharp increase in incidents involving violence and aggression towards our employees and contractors.
This is not acceptable, and at Torus, we take a zero-tolerance approach to verbal or physical assault of any nature towards our employees and will act against customers who are abusive towards our employees or contractors and will take appropriate action to protect our people.
Legal action is always the last resort, but if every other course of actions has failed, we will not hesitate to go down a legal route.
We have taken legal action against Torus tenants for threatening and aggressive behaviour towards Torus employees and have been successful in obtaining legal injunctions with exclusion zones around Torus offices and powers of arrest against perpetrators.
Offensive behaviour can cause distress and worry. It can frighten employees and have a serious impact on their mental wellbeing, which can then impact on your service. Therefore, we do not expect our employee to feel they must deal with customers who show threatening, abusive, or violent behaviour.
We will always acknowledge or investigate something a customer feels is wrong. However, that doesn’t mean our employees, contractors or others working on our behalf, will tolerate unacceptable behaviour from a customer, no matter how much the customer thinks it is justified.
The Housing Ombudsman Service requires housing associations and councils to have policies which help to manage customers who complain in an unacceptable way.
Our complaints policy explains how to complain, what the process is and what is, or isn’t, a complaint and our anti-social behaviour policy explains what we do to help a customer in need. However, these policies don’t explain what we do when it is a customer behaving unacceptably towards our employees.
If we, or our contractors, are faced with unacceptable behaviour from a customer, (whether that’s aggression, violence or threats of violence, or any form of discrimination or abuse), we might end the call, visit or appointment.
If we know a customer might behave in a certain way, we might make sure our employees do not visit them alone. These actions also work to protect the customer, particularly if that behaviour is made worse because of physical or mental conditions.
Every customer has a right to be heard, understood and respected, and we will make sure that happens in a fair and consistent way. We understand that distressing or frustrating circumstances can cause someone to act out of character, but that behaviour can become unacceptable if it continues or becomes so demanding that it affects our ability to provide our services to other customers.
These are the kind of behaviours we consider to be unreasonable or unacceptable:
This behaviour isn’t just from a customer, it also includes the family, friends or visitors of that customer when dealing with us or living in or visiting our homes. As our customer, you are responsible for their behaviour.
When customers act in this way, we will try to reach an arrangement which stops us taking more formal action. This is to allow the person time to change their behaviour. We may suggest mediation to try and improve the situation. If this fails, we may issue a warning before taking any formal steps. We will explain why the behaviour is unreasonable and what will happen next if it continues.
In certain cases, such as if there is physical violence, verbal abuse or harassment towards an employee, we will take further action, which may involve the police or other legal action. Unacceptable behaviour can also put the tenancy at risk, as it is a breach of the tenancy agreement, customers have signed.
Our priority will always be to protect our customers and employee. If the focus of a customer’s complaint is not about service but the employee, then these will also be investigated using our appropriate policies.
We expect our employees to offer you service with respect at all times. Please respect those that deliver our services to you.