Posted: Tue 13th Dec 2022

Assaults on emergency workers in Wales continue to rise 

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Dec 13th, 2022

Emergency workers in Wales are reminding the public to treat them with respect in the face of a continued rise in assaults.

There were 1,421 assaults in the six-month period between January – June 2022, up from 1,396 in the same period last year, representing a 1.8% increase, new figures have revealed.

Assaults ranged from slapping, scratching, spitting and verbal abuse to punching, biting, kicking and head-butting.

Seven incidents involved a weapon, and more than a quarter of assaults resulted in injury.

Ahead of the Christmas party season, emergency workers are appealing to the public to treat them with respect.

The latest data shows that in Wales the monthly average assaults increased from 233 in the 12 months to June 2021, to 241 in the 12 months to June 2022, demonstrating a year-on-year rise of 3.4%.

It also shows that in the 12 months to June 2022, Wrexham demonstrated the highest incident rate for assaults at 1.21 per 1,000 population, followed by Denbighshire at 1.20.

Both areas have seen notable increases when compared with the 12 months to June 2021, with Wrexham rising from 98 incidents to 164 (up 66) and Denbighshire increasing from 82 incidents to 115 (up 33).

Offenders aged 26-35 account for the highest portion of offending (23.6%).

Friday and Saturday nights present the highest number of emergency worker assaults, accounting for 26.2% of incidents in the first six months of 2022.

Alcohol intoxication continues to present as the largest impact factor, applying to a quarter of incidents
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been at least 42 incidents where an emergency worker has deliberately been coughed at.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The run-up to Christmas means more people are out enjoying the revelry, and with alcohol consumption comes an increase in assaults, both physical and verbal.

“There were 77 verbal attacks alone on our ambulance control room staff in the first six months of the year.

“We know it’s distressing when you’re waiting for help, but abusing our call handlers is not the answer – if anything, it could potentially delay help.

“And on the road, crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their safety is compromised, and that’s not helpful for anyone, especially the patient.

“Emergency workers are normal human beings just trying to do a job – they’re there to help you, so give them the credit and respect they deserve.”

Among the victims of assault are PC Alisha Pontin and PC Katie White from South Wales Police who earlier this year responded to a report of a disturbance in Port Talbot.

While at the address, the offender James Perry became aggressive and threatened PCs Pontin and White with a knife.

They were left with no option but to taser him.

Perry was later sentenced to 20 months in prison for criminal damage, Section 4 public order, threatening a person with a bladed article in a private place and assaulting an emergency worker.

James Ratti, South Wales Police’s Chief Inspector of Operations in Swansea Neath Port Talbot, said: “The footage from the officers’ body worn cameras shows the dangers that officers can face at any time.

“Police officers go above and beyond in their duties to protect people and under no circumstances should they be assaulted or verbally abused.

“The overwhelming majority of the public support the work of our officers and will understandably be shocked by the footage.

“I am extremely proud of PC Pontin and PC White’s professionalism and bravery in dealing with this incident.”

Assaults on police accounted for 70.8% of the total number in the six-month reporting period.

Under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, the definition of an emergency worker includes police, fire and ambulance staff, as well as prison staff and NHS workers.

Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales, said: “Our emergency workers provide life-saving and life-changing care every day in often difficult circumstances.

“The Christmas period is always a challenging time for your NHS staff, who are already facing unprecedented demand, so now more than ever, they deserve to be treated with respect.

“Any form of attack on our emergency workers is completely unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to work with NHS Wales employers and our partner agencies to eradicate physical or verbal assaults on staff.”

The With Us, Not Against Us campaign was launched in May 2021 by the Joint Emergency Service Group in Wales to try and reduce the number of assaults on emergency workers.

Pledge your support on social media using the hashtag #WithUsNotAgainstUs or #GydaNiNidYnEinHerbyn.

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