Roadworkers ‘confronted with knife and threatened with shooting’

These instances, along with some staff being racially abused and manhandled, have all happened in the county in the last decade leading to a new campaign.

Respect Our Workforce Week runs from Monday, March 11 to Friday, March 15, and aims to highlight the violence and verbal abuse against people working on the county’s roads.

It is organised by campaign group Stamp it Out and is supported by Oxfordshire County Council, its highways contractor Milestone and has the backing of Thames Valley Police.

Oxford Mail: Roadworkers have been abused in Oxfordshire.Roadworkers have been abused in Oxfordshire.

The past decade has seen a rise in reported incidents, with a minority of motorists or residents taking their frustration out on roadworkers over delays as improvements are made to the network.

In Oxfordshire, some workers have even been confronted with a knife and have even been threatened with shooting.

Other roadworkers have been racially abused as well as physically manhandled by angered members of the public over the past few years.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport management, said: “It is completely unacceptable for people to act in this way against those who are working in dangerous locations in all sorts of weather conditions to improve the condition of our roads.

“I was shocked to learn that 70 per cent of roadworkers are the victim of verbal or physical abuse every month, while half say they have been verbally abused in the last seven days.

“That’s why we are supporting the Respect our Workforce campaign and urge everyone to treat those working on our roads with common courtesy.”

Oxford Mail: Some roadworkers were even confronted with a knife.Some roadworkers were even confronted with a knife. (Image: Newsquest)

Milestone has formed a roadworker safety group as part of its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of everyone working on the highways and created an app for employees to report verbal threats or assault.

Jim Daughton, Milestone Operations Director, said: “No one should face abuse simply for doing their job.

“At Milestone we are committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on the road network – and that includes our staff.

“Our teams are now equipped with body-worn cameras and site CCTV is in place, where necessary.

“The message today is clear: abuse to highways operatives will not be tolerated.”

Kevin Robinson, Founder and Campaign Director of Stamp It Out, said: “Respect our Workforce Week marks a vital point in this campaign.

“It is not acceptable to abuse a doctor, nurse, teacher, or retailer worker, so why should those working on the public highway accept this too?”

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