Plea as emergency worker assaults continue to rise

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.

Figures at a glance:

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%.
Almost half (45.2%) of emergency worker assaults take place in South East Wales, the most prolific local authority areas being Cardiff, Newport and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
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).
The top three locations for emergency worker assaults in the January – June 2022 period were Cardiff City Centre, Cardiff Bay Police Station and Swansea Central Police Station.
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.”

Amanda Blakeman, Chief Constable at North Wales Police said: “Every single day our officers, staff and volunteers are often dealing with very difficult and challenging situations and putting themselves in harm’s way to uphold the law and protect the public, they must be able to carry out their duties as safely as possible. Being assaulted is not and should never be regarded as ‘part of the job’.

“Assault is a traumatic offence that causes great distress to anyone, and it is no different when the victim is an emergency worker. It is wholly unacceptable for them to be threatened, attacked, verbally abused or spat at – and those responsible should face the full force of the law.

“Assaults stay with the victims for the rest of their careers, and none of my officers and staff should have to go to work serving the public and be afraid of being assaulted.

“With the upcoming season of goodwill, please respect and protect our emergency 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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