Violence escalates in UK LIBRARIES as shock figures expose Britain’s ‘nodes of chaos’


Ex-police officer Neil Wood said he had been attacked more often in the library where he worked than in the police force, as “people flock to libraries after being locked out of public spaces”.

Britain's libraries are hotspots for violence
Britain’s libraries are hotspots for violence

It’s the last place you would expect to be threatened or spanked.

But violence is on the rise in British libraries. Shocking figures show that in five years they have been the scene of almost 6,000 serious incidents of antisocial behavior.

And librarians are prime targets where a soft “Sshhh” used to be the closest thing to a confrontation.

A former police officer who worked in a North East library for five years told us: “I’ve been attacked there more times than in my 25 years on the force.” And Neil Wood, 66, who was once attacked with a screwdriver, added : “Libraries are hubs of chaos. These people go there because they are barred from all pubs, most shops and public transport.”

Isobel Hunter of national charity Libraries Connected blamed the trend on “people who are unable to access medical and support services” and “the cost of living crisis”. She called on councils to “ensure libraries remain safe”.

Isobel Hunter says people aren’t able to access the services they need

In some areas they are used as a contact point for social services, which is believed to have increased the risk of disruption.

Our numbers came from a freedom of information request to 154 councils. Nick Poole, chief of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said he was “deeply concerned” by the numbers.

“Public libraries are increasingly acting as frontline first responders for people with complex needs,” he said. “We celebrate that public libraries are seen as safe and trusted places, but any form of attack is never acceptable.” The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment.

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