Stoke-on-Trent City Council has condemned the conduct of 22-year-old Leon Jones, who made repeated calls and sent abusive messages to the female staff member last month.
The victim came into contact with Jones in the course of her work and became the target of his anger concerning the outcome of the case.
Leon Jones' 'campaign of harassment'
Magistrates heard how the defendant:
- Threatened the victim following a court hearing, saying he would 'smash her teeth in';
- Made almost 50 calls to her work phone in three days;
- Threatened to go to her house and sent her a note that said she should 'look out for her son;
- Sent abusive messages to her mobile phone calling her names, and claiming he had found her family members on Facebook.
The case comes after The Sentinel revealed in April that council workers in Stoke-on-Trent were assaulted 144 times in 2017. This was up 26 per cent on the previous 12 months, when there were 106 incidents.
Council leader Ann James said: “We won’t stand for this kind of behaviour and take a zero-tolerance approach towards abuse.
“We are here to help but we won’t accept intimidation, or physical or verbal abuse of any kind. Our staff should receive the respect and dignity they deserve when undertaking the difficult tasks that they do.
"We will continue to work closely with the police and the courts to make sure that no city council employee has to put up with intimidation or harassment of any kind.”
Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre were told that Jones, who now lives in Birmingham, was upset about the circumstances of the case that brought him into contact with the social worker, and was now 'mortified' by the way he had behaved.
He pleaded guilty to harassment and was jailed for four months. A restraining order preventing Jones from contacting the victim for two years was also imposed.
Chairman of the bench Philip Mason told him: "People like this who are doing their job need to be protected. What you have done is extremely serious and there is no excuse for it."
The city council is now running a campaign - ‘We’re here to help, don’t abuse us’ - at public buildings in the city, and staff are receiving guidance on what to do if they are subjected to abuse while at work.
City director David Sidaway said: “City council workers provide hundreds of important services every day from housing to social work to helping to care for the most vulnerable in society.
"Our staff work to make a difference to the residents they serve. Sadly, we see too much verbal and physical abuse against workers and it’s just not acceptable. This is why we launched our ‘We’re here to help, don’t abuse us’ campaign.
"Staff are like everyone else – just trying to do a job, sometimes in extremely challenging circumstances.”