At the first sign of an emergency what do you think of doing? Normally you’d call the police, ambulance or fire station. But what happens when it’s those very responders who are subject to the dangers they try to protect others from?
Back in 2018, a new law came into place which was set to help protect those in the emergency services against violence while on duty. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act means that those who attack police, paramedics or other blue light workers would receive double the length of the original sentence, going from six month to a whole year incarcerated.
With all the efforts made to ensure their safety, it’s unfortunate that recent reports are suggesting that it just isn’t enough of a deterrent. Statistics show that over 6,500 arrests were made for attacks on emergency service workers in the past year. Workers themselves are stepping forward and say that the new law just isn’t enough.
What dangers are they facing?
Apart from the dangers blue lighters are responding to, there are several different ways in which they have been under attack in various situations. For example, in West Yorkshire, police officers are finding themselves head-butted, punched and kicked on a weekly basis and back in 2016 a firefighter was temporarily blinded after a firework was thrown at his feet during a call out.
In addition to this, some emergency services from different regions have been running their own campaigns to raise awareness and help prevent further attacks, with the Nottinghamshire Police and East Midlands Ambulance Service uniting in their attempt to decrease the numbers of effected workers by releasing footage of an attack along with their campaign.
What can be done?
At the moment, although the law has extended the sentence given, it isn’t always handed out to offenders. Sometimes they receive community service orders, suspended sentences or even reduced sentences. It’s these inconsistencies that are causing more damage to our emergency services.
Those who offend are more likely to reoffend when not given the correct punishments. Not only is this affecting current workers but it’s affecting the way in which these positions can appeal to the next generation. With the level of respect for these workers declining, the attraction of the job sinks with it.
Once the government and court systems are able to pass harsher judgements of these offenders, our emergency services will be protected in doing their actual jobs of helping the general public. The next generation will not fear going into their line of work and potentially we could see the UK’s force numbers rising.
The people who risk their lives saving ours shouldn’t need to worry about being attacked on the job and while, at the moment, the law is not acting as much of a deterrent, maybe it’s time this was revised.
If you have been injured at work and require advice or representation, do get in touch with our expert team at Lysander Law today.