Wellington City Council staff are dealing with a spike in aggressive incidents, with a 37 per cent increase in "personal confrontation" incidents over the past year.

Council documents said the problem was "continuing to rise", with frontline staff facing verbally abusive and aggressive members of the public.

There were 325 incidents reported in the 12 months to June 30, 2016, which spiked to 445 for the period ending June 30, 2017.

Many of those were reported by parking officers, but council documents also note other workers such as librarians are reporting an increase in confrontations.


At a WCC finance, audit and risk management subcommittee meeting today, health safety and wellness manager Deborah Hammond said the issue was a "work in progress".

"From a governance perspective we do need to have your agreement that we're managing this risk as best we can.

"Because it is a risk, there's no doubt about it."

The council is midway through bringing in measures to reduce the risk for their workers, including body cameras for parking wardens, and mandating high risk work being done in pairs.

Hammond said the body worn cameras were already having some effect.

"The body worn camera doesn't stop the individual coming up and confronting the officer. But what it does do, is that the behaviour modifies and it de-escalates.

"There has been an increase of over 100 incidents over the past 12 months. Parking has over half of those.

"It is the public who are confronting our parking officers on a daily basis, in terms of verbal, and on occasions physical, assaults."


In a statement to the Herald, WCC chief operating officer Barbara McKerrow said she believed the increase was because of increased reporting of such incidents.

"I am personally responsible for hundreds of frontline staff in areas ranging from parking services to our libraries, community centres, pools and recreation centres.

"We now ask staff to report any confrontation or situation where a member of the public has been aggressive, abusive or inappropriate.

"In the past year our parking enforcement staff have begun wearing body cameras to help defuse situations and modify behaviour in a positive manner.

"So far, anecdotally, they have been worth the investment."

McKerrow said the circumstances of the confrontations "vary considerably", and she didn't want to speculate on the underlying causes.

"Our primary responsibility is to our workers to ensure we take reasonable steps to manage the risk of harm to them when exposed to personal confrontation.

"We will never eliminate the risk from our workplace but we strive to minimise the risks."

Out of the 445 confrontation incidents this year, 24 incidents (since February 2017) were reported to police.

Four trespass notices were issued.

The council is bringing in 19 measures to reduce the risk of such confrontations, with 10 already in place.

Measures still being brought in include digitising services to reduce the number of council staff dealing with the public, having "lone worker devices" for people potentially exposed to confrontation, and having a tracking system for workers who could face confrontation situations when out of the office.