Binmen are "eyes and ears" of Wigan

Binmen can report instances of neglect or abuse
Binmen can report instances of neglect or abuse

Binmen are ideally placed to play a key safeguarding role, according to the deputy leader of Wigan Council.


The town hall launched its ‘Eyes and Ears’ campaign earlier this year encouraging all areas of the community to identify and report signs of abuse and neglect.

Since February, council staff have received more than 100 referrals, elected members were informed this week.

Coun Keith Cunliffe said refuse collectors – having been trained what to look out for – are an example of how the system can work.

He told a meeting of the town hall’s health and social care scrutiny committee: “The binmen go to every house, every week, they notice things.

“I’m not asking them to be professionally trained in safeguarding but if they’ve got concerns; a young child coming out looking dishevelled, for example, or concerns about someone not coming out of their house (they can report it).

“It’s not just professionals or other agencies, we should be working with residents’ associations and tenants, a range of groups, to make people aware of some of the signs or even if you’re just concerned (that) ‘it doesn’t look quite right, to me’.

The Eyes and Ears initiative is part of the council’s wider Together Against Abuse campaign.

An annual safeguarding report tabled for the committee said staff and those working for partner agencies have been shown ‘case studies and scenarios’ to help identify vulnerable individuals and report them to the authority’s multi-agency safeguarding hub.

Coun Cunliffe, who is cabinet lead for adult social care, emphasised the importance of early intervention.

He told colleagues: “We want people to feel confident to (report any concerns) and that it will be looked into and something will be done. The eyes and ears work we’re doing so far is showing some real benefits. On safeguarding, we don’t want to be investigating a situation where somebody has been abused, we want to stop people being abused in the first place.”

The council has introduced a Deal for Safeguarding as part of its wider Wigan Deal contract, outlining what residents can expect from the authority and how the community can help.

When the Together Against Abuse campaign was launched earlier this year, Dr Paul Kingston, the chair of the borough’s adult and children safeguarding boards, said: “At a time when there are revelations about abuse and neglect at the forefront of society; this campaign is extremely relevant.

“Safeguarding is not solely the domain of professionals, it is everyone’s business.

“This campaign will inform the public what they can do to stay vigilant, and to report any concerns that they
have.”