Violence at Work (UK)

Responding to a Physical Attack

It would be unrealisitic to try to encompass every single aspect of successfully defending against an attack, since every situation will be different. However, the information below may be helpful to consider.


Anger motivated attacks

The vast majority of anger motivated assaults do not result in very serious injury. Mostly, they amount to pushes, grips and grabs, a flurry of blows, with perhaps some kicking/ hair pulling. In most cases, assaults tend to stop as quickly as they started. Very few are sustained.

Avoiding a continuance is more likely to minimise the severity of the outcome. So, in the event of a physical assault that is motivated by anger, the best advice may be to, as far as reasonably practicable:

  • Protect defensively and distance from the attacker. Avoid prolonging/ aggravating the assault by fighting back.

  • Keep moving away from the danger until safe.


Where the attack is 'Theft Motivated'

Complying with 'demands' which are accompanied by threats, particularly where weapons are involved, will be more likely to minimise the severity of the violence used. Property can be replaced.


Sexually motivated attack by a stranger

British Crime figures show that where the victims of these kinds of attack have, from the outset, made every effort to frustrate the offence and to get away, they have been more successful in minimising the amount of harm suffered - leading to the “bash and dash” advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

The figures also show that where victims of sexually motivated attacks are abducted to a second (prepared) location, the danger of sustaining very serious injury is significantly increased.