AN appalling catalogue of violence and verbal abuse towards front line emergency workers in Wales has been revealed - and incidents are on the rise.

And Gwent's police chief has said such attacks - which can have a 'devastating impact' - will not be tolerated, and has called on the public to back 999 staff.

More than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, between April 2019 and November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020.

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

Just last week, a Newport woman was ordered to pay more than £450 for assaulting a police officer and breaching coronavirus lockdown rules by attending a party.

And over the Christmas period, there was more than one assault committed against a police officer that led to the offender being jailed.

One Newport man was jailed after he admitted assaulting a custody detention officer at Newport Central police station on December 30, while a second man, also from Newport, was also jailed for attacking a police officer just before Christmas.

South Wales Argus:

And Gwent's Chief Constable Pam Kelly (above), is urging people to support emergency service staff as they carry out their vital frontline work serving the public.

“We can only effectively do our jobs if people work with us and not against us," she said.

“With assaults on emergency workers continuing to rise, we are insisting and appealing for this type of behaviour to stop.

“Too often I see the devastating impact these assaults have on police officers and other emergency workers as they go about their duty to help those in need.

“It is important to remember that beneath any uniform is a person who has friends, family members and loved ones.

“An assault on any emergency worker is a crime, be that physical or verbal, and will not be tolerated.”


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More than half (58 per cent) of incidents took place in South East Wales, and over a third (37 per cent) were committed by people under the influence of alcohol.

With pubs set to re-open fully in Wales from Monday, emergency workers are asking the public to treat them with respect, and have the following plea – "work with us, not against us."

South Wales Argus:

There were 629 assaults on Welsh Ambulance Service staff over the 20-month period.

Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs.

“Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised, and this isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all the patient.

“The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so now more than ever, we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us."

Two thirds of the assaults over the 20-month period were committed against police officers, a third of which resulted in injury.

Although fewer in number – 74 incidents over the 20-month period – data shows that assaults on fire and rescue service staff peak in November.

As the first round of Covid-19 restrictions eased in Wales last year, July (256 assaults) and August (253 assaults) saw the highest volume of emergency worker assaults, both months around 20 per cent higher than the monthly average.

There were 21 known incidents over the reporting period where an emergency worker was deliberately coughed at by a person who claimed to have Covid-19, but the real figure is thought to be significantly higher.

Andrew Hynes, chairman of the NHS Wales anti-violence collaborative, said: “It is a sad indictment on society when some people feel they are entitled to physically or verbally abuse NHS staff.”

In 2018, the maximum sentence under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act was doubled from six months to 12 months in prison, but criminals could soon face up to two years in prison under new laws.