Hundreds of assaults on emergency workers in Greater Manchester including paramedics and firefighters

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Emergency service workers have been assaulted hundreds of times in Greater Manchester since 2020, government figures show.

Emergency services workers including firefighters and paramedics have been subjected to hundreds of assaults in Greater Manchester in the last three years, data shows.

Shocking figures released by the government show there have been more than 300 occasions when people in front line services have been attacked in the city-region since 2020. Across England and Wales there are thousands of attacks on emergency services personnel each year, and the figures suggest the number of such incidents is on the rise.

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The figures have been condemned by an emergency services union, which called the amount of times its members face abuse simply for doing their jobs “appalling”.

What do the figures show for Greater Manchester?

The Home Office figures show 367 assaults against emergency workers have been recorded by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) between March 2020 and the end of 2022.

Of these assaults, 195 took place in 2022, and 68 the year before, with the remainder taking place from early 2020 onwards.

In 2020 police forces began to record a new category of crime, of assaults without injury on emergency workers. The offence applies to attacks on ‘blue light’ workers, paramedics and firefighters, along with many others including prison officers, NHS staff, and St John’s Ambulance volunteers. It does not include assaults on police officers, which is covered by a different crime and therefore recorded differently in official statistics.

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There were hundreds of assaults on emergency workers such as fire crews recorded in Greater Manchester. Photo: AdobeStockThere were hundreds of assaults on emergency workers such as fire crews recorded in Greater Manchester. Photo: AdobeStock
There were hundreds of assaults on emergency workers such as fire crews recorded in Greater Manchester. Photo: AdobeStock | GWatkins - stock.adobe.com

The law imposed a maximum sentence of one year in prison for committing common assault against an emergency worker. This was doubled in 2022.

Across England and Wales, 3,347 assaults on emergency workers were recorded in 2022, a slight rise on 3,342 the year before. Since the crime was introduced, just over one in three recorded incidents (34% to be exact) have resulted in the offender being charged or summonsed.

There was an incident in which emergency workers came under attack in Manchester city centre very recently, when a group of 150 or so people committed anti-social behaviour including spraying on the outside of the Manchester Arndale shopping centre. A paramedic was pushed off his bike during the incident on Sunday 7 May, GMP said.

What has been said about the data and assaults on emergency workers?

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), 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.

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“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.