Not so Merry Christmas

Delivering Christmas cards probably isn’t seen as a dangerous job – so you may be surprised to hear there are 250-300 incidents of serious violence against postal workers every year.  My sister-in-law’s brother is one of these statistics – having been attacked for the second time by two thugs using a knuckle duster to smash up his face. 

A study by Hemming in 1996 (‘Violence and abuse at work: the experience of Royal Mail delivery officers in London’, International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention, vol. 1, no.4, pp. 267-275) found “the most likely victims of violence are female, employees who are working in an unfamiliar location, and those who are delivering in an area with a high crime rate”.

None of these criteria applied in the above case – indeed, it appears to have been a deliberate target by the same attackers following the earlier assault on a route in an affluent area of North London where many famous people live.

An article in the publication “Voice” earlier this year reports acts of violence up 29 per cent year on year (with robbery against postal workers up 49 per cent). 

But there is very little public or even media recognition of this issue – indeed, it is hard to find any reference on the Royal Mail website or the wider Internet to such incidents.  There is a company policy, and counselling for those attacked is available, but perhaps it is time for a wider public relations campaign to support the postal delivery staff and other lone workers before someone like the guy I know is killed whilst simply putting Christmas cards through letter boxes.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

3 thoughts on “Not so Merry Christmas”

  1. I just popped by to check out some usueful references and was very saddened to hear about this vicious and unprovoked attack. What a terrible attack with a knuckle duster, I hope these catch these thugs, they are not safe on the street.

    Perhaps all staff who work alone, especially those in solitary areas, should be given a safety whistle, I know it doesn’t seem much, but it if can be used, it may scare them off.

  2. It is so hard to know what deters such morons – my own view is that we need to have more ordinary honest people using the streets as too often, we retreat to our cars and locked doors to feel safe, leaving the outside world to those who think they can just take anything – including people’s self-respect and confidence.

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