Northumberland firefighters subjected to attacks and verbal abuse

Northumberland firefighters have been attacked or verbally abused dozens of times in just over a decade, figures show.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 11:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 5:42 pm
Northumberland firefighters have been subjected to verbal and physical abuse, new figures show.

At least 8,600 attacks have been recorded by fire brigades across England since 2010-11 – and more than 500 firefighters have been injured as a result.

Home Office statistics show crews from the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service were at the centre of 49 of those incidents, with six attacks recorded by the fire service in the year to March.

In light of the figures, police chiefs vowed to use the full force of the law against those who subject emergency workers to "deplorable" attacks.

During that time, crews were subject to three incidents of physical abuse, had objects thrown at them on 11 occasions, had verbal abuse directed at them 28 times, experienced one episode of harassment and dealt with at least six other aggressive incidents.

Despite firefighters attending fewer incidents and fires during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, attacks increased nationally, with 934 recorded across England in 2020-21 compared to 899 the year before.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Any attack on firefighters – who are providing a humanitarian service – is something to be deplored.

"It is paramount that fire and rescue services provide appropriate support to firefighters who are subject to such attacks, including taking into account any mental health effects of these incidents, and being understanding when it comes to sick leave.”

Verbal abuse is the most common type of attack recorded nationally, accounting for 57% of incidents recorded by fire services since 2010-11.

Around a quarter of incidents involved objects being thrown at firefighters, while 5% were physical attacks.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said it was never acceptable for anyone to be assaulted or harmed for doing their job.

He added: “Last year, the maximum jail term for attacking emergency workers was doubled.

"This sent a clear message that society will not tolerate abuse of our emergency workers.

"We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line.”