Shocking report reveals violent attacks on Northamptonshire's ambulance staff during Covid-19 pandemic

Catalogue of sex assaults and incidents involving weapons including firearms, knives, razor blades and scissors

Friday, 18th September 2020, 11:14 am
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 12:03 pm

An astonishing report revealed a shocking catalogue of violence against Northamptonshire's ambulance workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

East Midlands Ambulance Service recorded 208 physical attacks and 297 verbal abuse incidents on staff between January and July this year.

Of those 19 were sexual assaults and 37 involved weapons including firearms, knives, razor blades and scissors.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

That alarming number of attacks jumped to 631 between April 1 and August 31 when the country's battle with the killer Covid-19 bug was at its height.

Kelvin Langford, Local Security Management Specialist at East Midlands Ambulance Service said: “There has been a notable increase during the Coronavirus pandemic, with 631 reported acts of violence towards EMAS staff —- an increase of 169 incidents compared to the same period last year.

“Our colleagues help people in their time of need, and they’ve not stopped during the global pandemic. It’s been intense and challenging, and they deserve to be treated with respect.

“Any verbal or physical assault on our staff is disgraceful and we will continue with our zero tolerance stance, working with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute offenders.”

Northamptonshire's ambulance service recorded more than 600 attacks on staff at the height of the pandemic

EMAS provides emergency 999 care and telephone clinical assessment services for 4.8million people across Northamponshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, and Rutland.

A Sky News investigation revealed more than 1,600 physical assaults against ambulance staff between January and July as the country battled the COVID-19 crisis - the equivalent of more than seven attacks every day.

At least 149 sexual assaults on ambulance workers have taken place so far this year, as well as a rise in vandal attacks on ambulances and more than 2,000 verbal abuse incidents against crews, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.

East Midlands Ambulance Service, which recorded 208 physical attacks on staff, said 37 assaults or verbal abuse incidents involved weapons including firearms, knives, blades and scissors.

Ambulance staff were under huge pressure to help coronavirus patients at the height of the Covid-19 crisis. Photo: Getty Images

Figures given to this newspaper covering the period April 1 to August 31 showed 631 acts of violence towards EMAS staff, an increase of 169 — more than a third — on the same period in 2019.

Maximum sentences for common assault on paramedics, police officers, firefighters and prison officers was increased from six months to 12 in 2018.

Trade Union Unison represents ambulance staff. Its East Midlands regional organiser Naomi Tweddle said "The health and safety of ambulance staff has been and continues to be a top priority throughout this pandemic.

"These key workers have been at the forefront of this crisis to keep us safe.

"Ambulance staff should be able to focus on their job without having to worry about violence from the public. East Midlands Ambulance Service must ensure that these risks are minimised through all possible measures.”