Emergency services unite to tackle #Unacceptable assaults on staff

Emergency services from across the south west are working together to highlight the unacceptable trend in the number of assaults on their staff whilst on duty, by launching a new campaign #Unacceptable.

Police, ambulance, fire and healthcare staff are regularly subjected to attacks including serious injury, verbal abuse, spitting and biting, and even sexual assault from those they are trying to help.

Based on previous twelve-month figures, by the end of this year, over 1,400 police officers from Devon & Cornwall Police, Dorset Police and Avon & Somerset Police would have been assaulted while carrying out duties to keep the peace within their local communities (491 in Devon & Cornwall Police; 214 in Dorset Police; and 701 in Avon & Somerset Police).

South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) reported 1,049assaults on their staff between January and December 2017, which is an increase of 97 reports on the previous 12 months. Bournemouth NHS saw 236 assaults during this time. Sadly, however, it is thought that these figures do not represent the entirety of assaults, as many are never reported by the victims.

Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “I give my whole-hearted support to the #Unacceptable campaign. The ‘need’ to have legislation in place to protect those who work so hard to protect us is sad, but it’s a shocking reality that assaults on blue light staff are increasing, so I am delighted that there is now legislation in place that will serve to protect them. There is never an excuse for abusing Police Officers or any other member of the emergency services. They do a difficult job, often in very challenging circumstances. Verbal and physical abuse against any member of staff is completely and totally unacceptable.”

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Davies on behalf of Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police said: “Our officers and staff, along with other emergency services colleagues, demonstrate commitment, courage and dedication on a daily basis. They signed up to helping and protecting the public, not coming into work each day with the risk of being assaulted. The impact this can have on them, their colleagues and their families can have lasting effects long after physical scars have healed.

“Together, the emergency services want to ensure our personnel can deliver the best possible service to our communities; but in order to do this we need injury-free and healthy work forces. We will not tolerate assaults on our emergency services and will seek to bring criminal proceedings against offenders.  I welcome the new law to double the maximum sentence from six months to 12 months for assaulting an emergency services worker.”

Emergency services personnel from across the region have been sharing their experiences in a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwi0QE3agzE

As well as fellow blue light services, the campaign is being supported by Exeter City Football Club and the Exeter Chiefs who are encouraging the public to get behind the initiative by showing their support on social media. 

Campaign goal – #Goal999

The goal of the campaign is to keep emergency services personnel safe by raising public awareness and reducing the number of assaults while on duty.

In support of this, and with the backing of the Exeter Chiefs and Exeter City Football Club, the #Goal999 social media challenge encourages supporters and members of the public to post photographs or videos of their most creative goal, using the hashtags #Goal999 and #Unacceptable. When they post their entry, they can nominate friends and family to share their goals too.

Goals don’t have to be sport-based, they can include anything positive; whether that be climbing a mountain, painting a landscape or growing vegetables. The winner of the ‘most creative’ goal could scoop an early Christmas present in the form of a signed shirt by the Exeter Chiefs or Exeter City Football Club.

Please get involved and show your support by posting your photos or videos to Twitter with the hashtag #Unacceptable or on the Facebook page UnacceptableNotPartOfTheJob. Full details are given on www.dorset.police.uk/unacceptable. Also featured are videos of case studies from the police and other agencies.

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