A worrying trend has emerged as official figures from last year show an ‘alarming’ increase in assaults on emergency service workers.
In 2016 there were 46 recorded assaults on police officers from North and West Devon, which is up on the previous year by a staggering 58%. Incidents reported range from officers being spat at and pushed to having clumps of hair torn out, with some injuries resulting in broken bones. The true scale of the problem may even be greater than anticipated, as it is suspected many assaults are going unreported.
Superintendent for the region Tony Davies, branded the rise ‘wholly unacceptable’ and has called for harsher penalties for those found guilty.
Speaking to the Northern Devon Gazette he said: “We should not tolerate assaults on any of our local emergency service workers or public servants going about their business and I fully support the calls for tougher sentences on offenders to send out a clear message that it is unacceptable within a modern society.”
Statistics for local Northern Devon NHS Trust tell a similar story, with 334 recorded incidents of violence and aggression against staff over the past 12 months. Ambulance workers have also been on the receiving end of more than 140 assaults in the same period. These include threatening behavior as well as physical and verbal assaults.
NHS staff find themselves working in a variety of environments, not just hospitals, with community staff frequently providing care to patients in their homes which comes at added risk. Due to this, measures have been stepped up to improve staff safety. Lone worker panic alarms such as Skyguard’s MySOS have been issued to protect those employees most at risk.
Darryn Allcorn, Director of Nursing, Quality and Workforce, commented on how the Trust have been working to improve security: “We’ve increased security provision at our biggest site to provide 24/7 cover, and our community staff who visit patients at home have lone worker safety and monitoring devices.
“All frontline staff complete conflict resolution training, and carry out extra training programmes where appropriate.
“Our staff have a right to work in an environment free from harassment, bullying or from the threat of violence, which can have a very negative effect on their own health.”
Across the UK, more and more hospitals are looking to provide greater support for staff, particularly for those working alone. Over 140 NHS Trusts now use Skyguard’s services to give their employees a vital lifeline in times of need.