September 11, 2017

Assaults on emergency service staff have to stop and offenders should have tougher sentences, says senior police chief, after reports of verbal abuse, spitting, biting and even sexual assault

Devonlive.com reports on the strong comments by two Police Superintendents in South West England on the "completely unacceptable" frequency of assaults on emergency services staff:

Police, ambulance, fire and healthcare staff are regularly subjected to attacks from those they are trying to help. Last year alone in Devon and Cornwall, 492 police officers and staff were assaulted while on duty, including more than 60 cases of actual bodily harm. So far in 2017, 416 police officers and staff have been assaulted, five leading to grievous bodily harm levels of injuries.

Superintendent Toby Davies, commander for North and West Devon, stated over the last 12 months 45 assaults have been recorded on police staff within his area, which marks 58% higher than the preceding year. However he fears in reality the true figure will be far higher as many staff are not reporting all assaults, something the team is working on locally to improve.

He said: “Officers have been assaulted in a number of ways: we have had several spat at in their face; eyes gouged; pushed to the floor; clumps of hair torn out; severe bruising from punches to the head; dislocated knee; sprains and minor bone breaks.

“Police officers, Police Community Support Officers and Detention Officers have all been victims of assault over the past year. Our officers are out there doing their job in often very difficult circumstances, it is wholly unacceptable that they are being assaulted trying to protect our communities and it should never be accepted as ‘part of the job’.

“Officers who have been assaulted should be treated in the same way as any other victim, as the impact is no different whether an officer or not. We should not tolerate assaults on any of our local emergency service workers or public servants going about their business and I fully support the calls for tougher sentences on offenders to send out a clear message that it is unacceptable within a modern society.”

Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith from Devon and Cornwall Police, commander for East Cornwall, added it is “completely unacceptable” that officers and staff from the police and other blue light services are being assaulted, bitten, kicked at and verbally abused while on duty.

During 2016, South West Ambulance staff were on the receiving end of over 140 assaults. One incident in Torquay saw Stuart Riley, a paramedic, and Karen Lott, an emergency care assistant subject to a serious assault.

They were attempting to treat a person who was under the influence of a new psychoactive substance, who turned violent; the mental scars have still yet to heal for Karen.

In 2016, 334 incidents of violence and aggression were reported by staff at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust. This includes instances such as verbal and racial abuse, threatening behaviour and physical assaults.

A spokesperson for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “Assaults on emergency services staff not only put them at risk but could also have an impact on members of the public in need of our help. We do not tolerate the kind of behaviour and work closely with the police to ensure anyone committing a crime of this nature is prosecuted.”

Source

Maybo Training for the Emergency Services