Revealed: firefighters attacked four times in Northampton in the past year

Firefighters responding to emergencies in Northampton came under attack four times in the past year despite tougher sentences for assaulting blue-light workers.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 3:35 pm
Firefighters were attacked four times in Northampton in 2018/19. Photo: Shutterstock

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service personnel were assaulted twice and verbally abused twice in the town in 2018/19, according to data obtained by the Chronicle & Echo.

Assistant chief fire officer Shaun Hallam said: “On a daily basis, our firefighters deal with very difficult and challenging situations, often putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the public, and they should be able to carry out their duties as safely as possible.

“Being assaulted is not and should never be regarded as ‘part of the job’.

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Attacks on firefighters in the UK

"Thankfully, attacks on firefighters are low in Northamptonshire but we will not tolerate any sort of abusive language or behaviour towards any of our firefighters and will always pursue police action against the perpetrators.”

Across Northamptonshire, there were eight assaults on firefighters in 2018/19 out of 5,557 incidents.

From 2014 to March this year, there were 31 attacks on firefighters in the county - the highest number of attacks in one year was nine in 2016/17.

While there were more than 900 attacks on firefighters responding to emergencies across the UK in 2018/19, roughly the same number as the year before.

Figures obtained from 49 of the UK’s 50 fire services show crews were physically abused more than 70 times and had fireworks or missiles thrown at them more than 200 times - at least nine firefighters were injured.

This is despite the introduction of a law in England and Wales last November which doubled the maximum prison terms for assaulting blue light workers from six months to a year.

Chris Bryant MP, who spearheaded the so-called Protect the Protectors law by tabling a Private Members Bill, said he feared the justice system was “still not taking this seriously enough'.

“We need a complete zero-tolerance attitude towards any kind of violence towards our emergency workers. Any assault on them is an assault on all of us," he said.

A Government spokesman added: “Being attacked should never be part of the job for our firefighters, which is why we have been clear about the need for better protection and stronger sentences.”