Under attack: Derbyshire firefighters on the front line
Derbyshire firefighters who bravely put themselves in harm’s way are continually coming under attack, an investigation has found.
Figures obtained from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed 74 attacks were reported on firefighters responding to emergency call-outs since 2014.
Analysis by the JPIMedia Data unit found that while the majority of the reported incidents related to verbal attacks, there were three physical attacks and five incidents where objects had been thrown at firefighters or appliances.
A spokesperson for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Physical attacks on firefighters are extremely rare in Derbyshire, however instances of verbal abuse are sadly more frequent.
“Being attacked should never be part of the job for a firefighter, the very people that put themselves in harm’s way to protect others.
“Thankfully it is only a very small minority of people who would ever consider acting in such an irresponsible way.
“Any attack on an emergency service worker is unacceptable and as such the service welcomed the Assaults on Emergency Services Workers (Offences) Act which was introduced in 2018, carrying a potential 12-month jail term for anyone charged with the offence.”
There were more than 900 attacks on firefighters responding to emergencies across the UK in 2018/19. Firefighters say attacks often intensify around Bonfire Night.
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 in 2018/19. At least nine firefighters were injured.
In England and Wales, the number of attacks has risen marginally, despite the introduction of the ‘protect the protectors’ law last November.
The law doubled the maximum prison terms for assaulting blue light workers from six months.
Labour MP Chris Bryant, 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 and the courts have still not taken on board the fact that this law is in place”.
He said: “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.”
A government spokesperson said: “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.”