Violence Posters 07.07.10

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When you enter the UK, one of the first things you see at the airport is posters saying "violence against our staff will not be tolerated". These warnings have spread across the UK's public buildings in recent years, from Tube stations ("Don't take it out on our staff") to doctors' surgeries (pictured). Seeing a poster like this, mostly from a queue, sets expectations for one's encounter with public services horribly low, and injects a hostile note into the air. Is this a place where violence can be expected? Am I likely to be so frustrated that I will run amok? Of course public servants have a right to work without fear of attack, but the minimal benefits of these posters must be weighed against the way they raise the background tone of aggression.

 

 Words

William Wiles

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These warnings have spread across the UK's public buildings in recent years

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