South Yorkshire emergency workers punched, bitten and attacked with weapons as assault numbers rise

Emergency workers in South Yorkshire are increasingly coming under attack, shocking new figures show.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 1:59 pm

The number of assaults on police, ambulance staff and firefighters going about their vital work all rose last year, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

South Yorkshire Police said there were 290 assaults on its officers during 2019 – including 72 in Sheffield and 58 in Doncaster – which was more than in any of the previous four years and up from 196 in 2018.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) said its staff came under attack 34 times last year – with 13 of those incidents in Sheffield and 11 in Doncaster – up from 29 in 2018 and again higher than in any of the previous four years.

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A bodycam captures the moment police came under attack from fireworks in Sheffield on Bonfire Night 2019

On 11 occasions, missiles were lobbed at firefighters or their vehicles – including on Bonfire Night when firefighters and police came under attack from fireworks in Sheffield.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service said there had been 56 assaults on staff reported within South Yorkshire during 2019 as of December 4 last year – which was already more than the 54 reported throughout 2018, though slightly down on the 62 logged in 2017.

The ambulance trust revealed crew members in the region had been punched 21 times last year, kicked on 15 occasions, bitten six times and spat at seven times.

There were also eight attacks involving weapons and one sexual assault during 2019, though none of the injuries sustained were classed as ‘major’ and in only five cases were they deemed ‘moderate’.

Police were attacked in Sheffield on Bonfire Night, and scores of firefighters and ambulance crews have also been assaulted while on duty

The majority of attacks against South Yorkshire Police officers took place while they were attempting to detain somebody, though most resulted in either no injury or injuries deemed ‘non-reportable’, with only six cases where staff were off work or unable to perform their normal duties for more than seven days.

Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley said that when officers are attacked or injured the force takes it ‘incredibly seriously’ and supports them throughout the investigation and beyond.

SYFR’s head of emergency response, Andrew Strelczenie, pointed out that new laws brought in last year meant there were now harsher sentences for anyone attacking 999 workers, which he called ‘completely unacceptable’.