Council bans on the cards for abusive customers

Laois County Council adopts tougher policy on Acceptable Customer Behaviour

Council bans on the cards for abusive customers
By Lynda Kiernan

Six month bans and legal action are among tough new rules for unacceptable customer behaviour at Laois County Council HQ in Portlaoise.

The new policy has come about after housing staff began receiving threats from the public, over the ongoing social housing crisis.

It is aimed at protecting both staff and other visitors.

The policy states that the council does not expect its staff to tolerate unacceptable behavior by any customer.

The detailed list of behaviour that is not acceptable, includes: abusive or foul language on the phone or face to face, abuse on social media, and on voicemails or emails.

It lists violent, aggressive behaviour including threats by customers to 'self -harm'.

Other violent behaviour covers verbal assault, non verbal intimidation, racial, sexual, disability or other harassment, physical assault, threatening behaviour, implied threats, and the use of animals to assault or intimidate.

Abuse on the council's social media sites may result in legal proceedings.

‘Vexatious” behaviour that is ongoing, can also lead to a ban , or to restricted access.

This includes customers being disruptive or abusive to staff or public visitors; refusing to specify the grounds of their request despite offers of assistance; making an unreasonable number of contacts with the council; making persistent and unreasonable demands of staff; refusal to accept that some issues are not within the power of the council; recording meetings without consent.

Customers must also keep their children supervised, and no smoking or smoking devices are permitted.

Customers will get several warnings, both verbal and written, before they may be prevented from contacting staff in any way, inside or outside county hall.

The council can also call the Gardaí without warning the customer, and may take further legal action.

A customer who remains on the premises “beyond a reasonable time necessary to completea transaction”, will be asked to leave.

If they do not leave, they may be regarded as a trespasser and the Gardaí may be called to remove them.

Donal Brennan Director of Services has confirmed that public libraries will be getting additional policies.

In turn, a new Draft Customer Charter has been adopted, stating that customers are entitled to be served in a courteous, prompt manner, with due regard to privacy and confidentiality, by helpful and supportive staff.

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