Condemning assaults on EMS Staff

Wednesday, 13 January, 2021

Emergency services in the North east have come together to launch a video campaign condemning assaults on their staff.

The campaign comes the same day that 42-year-old Lisa Timney, of Forber Road in Middlesbrough, was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment at Teesside Crown Court after attempting to stab a police officer in the head and neck area as he took a statement from her.

Fortunately, the officer was able to block the attack and was not physically injured, however, two colleagues were kicked by the woman as she was taken into police custody.

Police saw assaults on officer's and staff rise from 41 in March to 49 in April and then 61 in May, an increase of 75% compared to 2019. Some of these assaults saw officers physically injured and not being able to carry out their duties.

A total of 645 emergency workers had been assaulted between January 1 and Nov 30th 2020. 531 of these are police officers and police staff, including PCSOs.
Cleveland Fire Brigade also saw 27 incidents between April and September, including a tree trunk thrown through the windscreen of a fire engine and bricks aimed at crews as they tackled a garden fire that threatened to spread to other properties.

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) staff based in Cleveland reported at least 27 incidents during March, April, May and June.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Graham, from Cleveland Police, said: "We welcome the sentence today handed to Lisa Timney, who kicked two police officers and attempted to seriously injure another with a knife.

"It is entirely unacceptable and we won't tolerate it. It is unthinkable what could have happened here, and emergency service workers shouldn't have to put up with being assaulted when they put their lives on the line to protect others.

"There have been a number of incidents this year where our officers and staff have been kicked, punched, spat at and bitten. It's not acceptable in any circumstances and we will take action against anyone who behaves in this manner."

Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Director of Community Protection Carl Boasman said: "It's completely unacceptable for emergency service workers to be subject to violence, aggression or acts of vandalism whilst protecting the public. Our firefighters, along with our colleagues in other emergency services do a fantastic job in protecting the local community and saving lives. The fact that our job is made even more difficult by the thoughtless actions of a minority is hard to believe and will not be tolerated. Such violence puts firefighters at risk of injury or even worse and can also stop them from attending an emergency where lives may be at risk.

"In extreme circumstance a vehicle can be taken out of action and will not be available for emergency calls. Our vehicles are fitted with CCTV cameras and staff are equipped with body cams. Violence and aggression towards our staff is not acceptable and we will work with the police to identify anyone who thinks it's acceptable to behave in this way."

North East Ambulance Services Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive Paul Liversidge said, "We are saddened to hear of the actions that the police officers had to endure whilst trying to go about their jobs.

"As emergency services, we do not expect our staff to face any such abuse, violence or aggression from patients or the public.

"If our staff are assaulted or face abuse over the phone, this could mean that they aren't then available to help anyone else in an emergency.

"We will not tolerate behaviour that puts our staff at risk and will work closely with the police to pursue criminal charges where appropriate.

"From April to October 2020, there have been 234 reported assaults within our Trust, compared to 196 last year in the same time period.

"Please respect emergency service workers and do not hinder their response to people who need them."

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