Calls to protect emergency staff

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.

Balance has joined organisations across the UK backing a Private Members Bill calling for more protection for emergency workers from assaults which are often fuelled by alcohol.

On Friday, Chris Bryant MP is introducing the Bill in Parliament that would for the first time make assaults on emergency workers an aggravated offence.

In the North East, police and paramedic surveys show:

• A high rate of injury among police officers with only 14 per cent never having been assaulted in the line of duty and 21 per cent being assaulted six or more times during their time in the force.

• Police officers frequently victims of sexual assault while in the line of duty with 59 per cent of female officers and 33 per cent of male officers claiming to have received some form of sexual assault or harassment since they started their service.

• Half of paramedics have been physically assaulted at some point while on duty.

• Two in five paramedics have at some point been sexually assaulted by drunken people while on duty.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Emergency workers are there to protect us, but are regularly subjected to horrific violence and sexual assaults. Cheap alcohol is making this situation much worse.

“We are all paying the price of cheap alcohol, whether through disorder in town centres or drunken patients taking up the time of nurses and doctors in A&E which impacts on other patients in need. The time must come when we say enough is enough and give front-line staff the protection they need.”