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Editor, Safety & Health Practitioner

September 14, 2020

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

Emergency workers

Four in 10 police officers assaulted last year and attacks on firefighters on the rise

A poll of more than 40,000 police officers in England and Wales has shown that almost four in ten said they had been assaulted in the last year, while the latest government figures show that attacks on firefighters in England have surged by 66% in four years.

police officersThe research, carried out by the College of Policing, also found that 88% of officers said they had been assaulted at some stage during their career and three-quarters stated a desire to carry Taser stun guns every day.

Earlier this year, IFSEC Global reported that the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker would be doubled, following a consultation by Government. It was also announced in April by Director of Public Prosecutions that anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers would face serious criminal charges.

This latest research was commissioned by National Police Chiefs Council Head Martin Hewitt, who said he was shocked by the scale of the assaults and added that a third of officers said they were unhappy with the personal safety training they received.

The BBC reports that, in 2018-19, there were 31,000 assaults on officers – equivalent to 328 assaults per 1,000 constables, up from 284 per 1,000 the previous year.

The College of Policing report also found:

  • More than two in five police officers killed between 2008 and 2019 died while travelling to and from work. Police chiefs are researching links between shift work and road accidents;
  • Every chief constable will review whether frontline officers and staff have enough Tasers, body armour, spit and bite guards, protective gloves and high-visibility clothing;
  • Trials of new technology and equipment to prevent assaults will be accelerated, including changes in police vehicles and remotely operated devices to immobilise vehicles;
  • A “hard-line” approach will be taken into investigations of assaults against officers, with the default position that the alleged offender will be arrested.

Huge rise in attacks on firefighters

FirefightersIn related news, the Local Government Association (LGA) has called for tougher sentences to help tackle a ‘sickening’ rise in attacks on fire crews.

Attacks on firefighters in England have surged by 66% in the last four years, from 578 in 2014/15 to 961 in 2018/19, according to the latest government figures. The number of firefighters injured following attacks during this period have soared by 175%, from 24 to 66. The data also showed that attacks have increased during lockdown in some areas.

Attacks on emergency workers became a specific crime in 2018, but only 17% of the 9,000 offenders who have since been sentenced for this offence have received an immediate jail term, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council.

Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said: “It’s completely unacceptable for emergency service workers to be subject to attacks, aggression or acts of vandalism while protecting the public. The rising trend in violence towards firefighters is sickening.

“Our firefighters, like all emergency service workers, do a fantastic job in protecting our local communities and saving lives and should deserve our completely respect. The senseless violent actions of a minority of people puts firefighters at risk of injury or even worse and can also stop them from attending an emergency where lives may be at risk.

“Firefighters deserve complete protection. Increasing the maximum sentence for assaults on firefighters will show that these attacks will not be tolerated.”

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