South Wales Police has reported that it has investigated over 900 assaults on emergency workers in the 12 months since new legislation was introduced that is intended to try and give better protection to emergency services & NHS personnel.
The ‘Assault on Emergency Services (Workers) Act came into effect on 13th November 2018.
In the 12 months since its introduction, 868 assaults have been reported against emergency workers.
South Wales Police confirmed that charges had been brought in around 62% of the cases which have been reported.
The much-needed Act made attacks on emergency workers, which includes the police, ambulance service, fire service, front-line NHS staff and prison officers, an aggravating feature for sentencing.
It also introduced a new offence for ‘minor’ assaults against emergency workers.
Despite the new law, many emergency services personnel feel let down by some of the sentences which have been handed down to those who have been convicted of assaulting an emergency services worker.
South Wales Police Chief Constable Matt Jukes says the number of assaults on emergency personnel who are doing their job is still unacceptably high.
“I am constantly in awe of the dedication, determination and courage shown by our officers and staff who put themselves in harm’s way to tackle violent offenders on behalf of others, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in our society.
“But there is never any justification for attacking those who are doing an extraordinary job in keeping South Wales safe – but are still just doing their job.
“Nobody comes to work in order to be punched, kicked, spat at, bitten, or threatened, and yet in too many cases this is exactly what happens. Our officers and staff go about their job in an exceptional way, but they are still people like you and I – not punchbags.
“Other emergency personnel, similarly, are committed public servants, and anyone who thinks they have free rein to attack them should expect to be dealt with severely by the criminal justice system.
“The resilience of officers when they are attacked is inspiring, but they should never have to be put in that position.
“The courts now have more power to deal with these offenders, but the fact that almost 870 assaults on emergency workers were reported in the last 12 months shows there is still some way to go.”
Steve Treharne, chair of the South Wales Police Federation, said:
“Assaults against our emergency service workers are unacceptable. We welcome any initiative to ensure that those who assault our blue light colleagues are dealt with robustly by the Criminal Justice System.
“Assaults have continued to rise against our hard working officers, which increased by 30% over the past two years. All our emergency service workers deserve protection for doing the incredibly difficult work they do in day in and day out.”
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