Hundreds of assaults on emergency workers in West Midlands
There have been hundreds of assaults on non-police emergency workers in West Midlands since 2020, new figures show.
In 2020 police forces began to record a new category of crime - assaults without injury on emergency workers.
Latest Home Office crime figures show 594 assaults against emergency workers have been recorded by West Midlands Police between March 2020 and the end of 2022.
Of these assaults, 312 took place in 2022, and 281 the year before, with the remainder taking place from early 2020 onwards.
The offence applies to attacks on 'blue light' workers, paramedics and fire fighters, along with many others, including prison officers, NHS workers, and St John’s Ambulance volunteers - but does not include police officers, who are covered by a different crime code.
The 2018 Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill came into law, imposing a maximum prison sentence of one year for common assault on an emergency worker – a sentence that was doubled in 2022.
Over the past few years 12% of these crimes in West Midlands resulted in a charge.
Across England and Wales, 3,347 assaults on emergency workers were recorded in 2022, a slight rise on 3,342 the year before.
And since the crime was introduced, 34% of recorded incidents have resulted in the offender being charged or summonsed.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "People become firefighters to serve their communities and help to keep people safe. It’s appalling that firefighters should face violent attacks while doing their job.
“This is not a new problem, and in the past work has been done to address it.
"Unfortunately, sweeping cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service since 2010 have meant the end of many youth and community engagement programmes which aimed to educate and include local communities in the work that firefighters do."
Ambulance workers are also frequent victims of assault – the 2022 NHS Staff Survey found 45% of paramedics had experienced violence from patients or the general public.