Protect Our Protectors
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, is calling on all Members of Parliament (MPs) to support a new law with tougher sentences for those who assault emergency services workers.
On Friday October 20th, MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant’s Private Members Bill will go before Parliament to create a new offence of assaulting an emergency services worker.
Prior to the second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons this week, Gwent PCC Jeff Cuthbert is urging every single MP to turn up to vote and introduce a change to the law to crack down on attacks on emergency services workers doing their job. If passed, the Crime (Assaults on Emergency Staff) Bill would make attacks on emergency services workers such as police, fire and ambulance crews an aggravated offence.
According to the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), attacks against police officers are unacceptably high – one every 15 seconds according to their latest estimates. Gwent Police’s own health and safety records show that 103 police officers have been assaulted on duty since 2015, 24 of which were assaults on Detention Staff in custody suites. Gwent Police says that the figures could be much higher as there is evidence to suggest that officers only report the most serious cases whilst the rest go unreported.
In Gwent, the attacks have ranged from police officers being strangled, stabbed, punched, kicked, slapped and bitten, with many requiring hospital treatment for the injuries they suffered. The figures also show that nearly 350 workdays were lost in total by Gwent Police Officers recovering following the attacks on them.
In June this year, figures released by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) showed they had seen a 158% increase in the number of attacks against its crews in the last 12 months. Crews throughout the Service area have been subjected to verbal and physical abuse and had objects, including bricks and fireworks, thrown at them as they’ve responded to incident calls in local communities. Areas with the highest number of offences include Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Newport.
NHS staff in Wales were also physically attacked more than 18,000 times at work over five years according to figures published last December. The data showed there were also 11,000 verbal assaults on NHS staff.
Calling on MPs to back the Bill, Gwent PCC Jeff Cuthbert said: “Our Emergency Services workers do a difficult job in often challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, physical and verbal assaults on them are common although significantly underreported. They have a difficult enough job to do and this is not something that should ever be tolerated. Most people in Gwent would agree that this behaviour is unacceptable and the men and women who put on their uniforms every day should not have to expect this. I would urge all MPs to support Chris Bryant’s Bill to protect our protectors.”
Rhondda MP, Chris Bryant, said: “I am urging every single MP to turn up to vote for this bill to protect the protectors - it's the least they deserve. It is already a specific offence to attack a police officer conducting their duties, but that provision is far too weak and has proved ineffective in protecting officers. Prosecutions are rare, sentences are extremely lenient - and there is still no legal protection for paramedics, doctors or nurses. What my poll shows is that my constituents and the country think it is high time to change the law.”
SOME OF THE ATTACKS ON OUR EMERGENCY SERVICES IN GWENT:
- October 2017 – Male charged with attempted murder of a Police Officer in Newport. Another Police Officer assaulted on route to assist a member of the public during a separate incident;
- July 2017 - Male jailed after threatening a Police Officer with a knife in Cross Keys
- January 2017 – Fire engine in Newport damaged after youths started throwing bricks and stones. Police Officers called to assist South Wales Fire and Rescue Service crews;
- November 2016 – Two South Wales Fire and Rescue Crews attacked by youths as they dealt with incidents on Bonfire Night. One crew from Cwmbran attacked with bottles by about 15 youngsters after putting out a bonfire in the town. Youths also threw stones and shouted abuse at firefighters putting out a grass fire in New Tredegar. In a separate incident, Gwent Police Officers in Newport were targeted for attacks with commercial grade fireworks. Several Officers were struck with pyrotechnic projectiles and stones;
- November 2016 – Gwent Police Officer left requiring Hospital treatment following a vicious attack at a hotel in Newport;
- October 2016 - Ambulance workers attacked with barrage of fireworks as they were helping a patient in Newport;
- October 2015 - Two Gwent Police Officers conveyed to hospital after being assaulted whilst dealing with an incident in Monmouth. One officer pushed to the floor and hit his head, and another officer vomited on. In a separate incident, a man was also cautioned in Newbridge for assaulting a police constable in the execution of his duty;
- 2014 - Man found guilty of punching a female Gwent Police Officer during a violent incident in Brynmawr. This was part of an incident which left three Gwent Officers with injuries. She was taken to hospital suffering black eyes, a broken nose, a deviated septum, a laceration to her left eyebrow and bruises to her arm. She was off work for three months following the incident.