I noticed a story this week that really saddened me to the core.The Mirror’s article read:

A charity was fined £30,000 yesterday for failing to protect a care worker stabbed to death by a paranoid schizophrenic.

Crazed Ronald Dixon, 39, knifed Ashleigh Ewing, 22, 39 times in the chest only months after threatening to kill the Queen outside Buckingham Palace.

The psychology graduate was sent on a visit alone to his rented flat in Heaton, Newcastle, on the last day of a six-month probation with Mental Health Matters in 2006. Dixon admitted manslaughter.

The city’s crown court yesterday heard his behaviour warranted a more rigorous risk assessment.

The charity admitted breaching Health and Safety act and was ordered to pay £20,000 costs.
It is a very sad story but a shocking one too – did you know that the police don’t go to houses alone? And yet we send young female graduates to deal with psychologically disturbed people. I find this pretty shocking, for a start the police are trained to deal with aggressive people and are armed with CS gas, extendable truncheons, hand cuffs and hold the power of the law.

The charity in the article was fined against the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (Section 2) which states:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

It is an extremely sad story but it is one I fear will be shared across the country time and again as companies and the public sector fail to provide the type of training their staff need to identify or deal with violent situations.

These organisations in the public sector shouldn’t commission a one-hour conflict resolution training course over lunch to make sure they tick the box, they should send their teams on proper full-day course or call in a team like mine in to train the staff appropriately. After all we are talking about lives being lost here. Now I am not saying that our training will save everybody’s life but it provides a far better standard of identification and dealing with these types of situations than a quick tick box exercise would.

I know a lot of these organisations are now looking at reducing budgets, and so look for the cheapest way to tick the box with many things. The cheapest training company is often the cheapest for a reason. If you or your organisation had an audit you would get pulled up on this straight away. My advice is go to a company you have either heard about or been recommended by someone you respect. You cannot substitute good training especially if it reduces situations like this where a life has been lost.

The rule of the NHS Counter Fraud Service is it actually audits what you have completed. It actually states that you must have a minimum of four hours training in conflict resolution/conflict management. However, there are several NHS trusts out there trying to do it on far less hours and who is this really helping. What I am trying to say here is make sure your team’s training is truly fit for purpose. The thing that I find most scary is that without proper training people are dying simply doing their jobs. How much is a life worth? We shouldn’t be losing lives we should be protecting them.