HUNDREDS of emergency workers were attacked in South Wales in the 12 months since new legislation introduced stricter sentences for those who assault blue-light workers.
The law came into effect on November 13, 2018 – and in the year since 868 assaults have been reported against emergency workers in South Wales. Charges have been brought in about 62% of cases.
The Act made attacks on emergency workers including police, ambulance, fire crews and prison officers an aggravating feature for sentencing, and introduced a new offence for minor assaults against emergency workers.
South Wales Police Chief Constable Matt Jukes says the number of assaults on emergency personnel who are doing their job is still unacceptably high.
He said: “I am constantly in awe of the dedication, determination and courage shown by our officers and staff who put themselves in harm’s way to tackle violent offenders on behalf of others, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in our society.
“But there is never any justification for attacking those who are doing an extraordinary job in keeping South Wales safe – but are still just doing their job.
“Nobody comes to work in order to be punched, kicked, spat at, bitten, or threatened, and yet in too many cases this is exactly what happens. Our officers and staff go about their job in an exceptional way, but they are still people like you and I – not punchbags.
“Similarly, other emergency personnel are committed public servants, and anyone who thinks they have free rein to attack them should expect to be dealt with severely by the criminal justice system.
“The resilience of officers when they are attacked is inspiring, but they should never have to be put in that position.
“The courts now have more power to deal with these offenders, but the fact that almost 870 assaults on emergency workers were reported in the last 12 months shows there is still some way to go.”
Steve Treharne, chair of the South Wales Police Federation, said: “Assaults against our emergency service workers are unacceptable. We welcome any initiative to ensure that those who assault our blue light colleagues are dealt with robustly by the Criminal Justice System.
“Assaults have continued to rise against our hard-working officers, which increased by 30% over the past two years. All our emergency service workers deserve protection for doing the incredibly difficult work they do in day in and day out.”
The following video contains Body-worn video footage of a South Wales Police officer who was kicked and bitten by a suspect after restraining him following a disturbance at Morriston Hospital on August 16, 2019.
Jack Bennett (pictured below) was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment at Swansea Crown Court on September 16, 2019, after pleading guilty to a Section 47 assault (ABH) in relation to this incident.