48 ambulance crews attacked since April

Staff punched, kicked and spat at

Forty-eight frontline staff with the North East Ambulance Service were physically attacked in 2013, while attending incidents where they had been called to help.

Another 119 were either threatened or verbally abused.

Incidents ranged from paramedics being kicked or punched in the face, to being spat on.

The number of assaults is actually nine down on the previous year, and 39 lower than in 2011.

However, the North East Ambulance Service say this year's fall is no cause for celebration - and that ambulance crews should not have to endure any of these types of attacks.

David Edwards, Risk Officer for NEAS, said: "While it's encouraging that the number of assaults suffered by our frontline crews has dropped over the last three years, it still happens far too often for our liking.

"We have been very pro-active in recent years with the ambulance crews, encouraging them to report any incident where they are threatened or attacked. Historically, verbal abuse or being physically attacked was considered by some to be one of the risks of the job. It shouldn't be.

"Equally, we have been repeating publicly that NEAS will not tolerate  anyone who behaves this way towards our staff. Perhaps this message is starting to get through. We will report incidents to the police, and support them with any prosecution they feel are suitable. Most of our ambulances now have CCTV cameras on board, so if an assault does occur near the vehicle, there's a good chance it will be caught on film, which helps with any subsequent court case.

"Our ambulance crews work extremely hard doing a difficult job in all kinds of situations. I wish to remind some members of the public that our crews' sole objective is to help people who need medical attention.

"For those members of the public that choose to ignore this and involve themselves in criminal activity against ambulance crews, rest assured the victim and the ambulance service will seek appropriate sanctions.  

"Why some people ever feel the need to become aggressive with an ambulance crew is completely baffling."

Even if the outcome is a police caution, there are still consequences for the perpetrator:

  • A caution  is recorded  on the Police National Computer
  • A caution will still involve fingerprints, DNA and photograph being recorded.
  • It may influence how a person is dealt with, should they come to the notice of the police again and may also be cited in court in any subsequent proceedings.
  • A simple caution will appear on a subject access request made by the offender under the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • It may also be disclosed for employment vetting purposes, licensing purposes or to inform judicial appointments. 

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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