Met chief backs steps to reduce attacks on ambulance staff

London’s
top police officer has pledged his support to reducing violence towards
ambulance crews working in the capital.

His
support comes as ambulance staff continue to suffer violence and abuse on a
daily basis. Between January and March this year, there were 130 reported cases
of physical violence towards LAS staff and almost 400 reports of verbal abuse.

Metropolitan
Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said: "Our officers work with
ambulance crews every day and know what a vital job they do. It is unacceptable
that they should face violence when trying to save lives and we will do all we
can to support the LAS in bringing the offenders before the courts."

This
comes as the London Ambulance Service (LAS) reinforces the message that there
is ‘No Excuse’ for violence towards its staff, with hard-hitting posters on the
London Underground showing the bruised face of a female ambulance technician
who was assaulted while responding to an emergency call.

LAS
chief executive Peter Bradley welcomed Sir John’s comments and said: "It
is quite simple – our staff should be able to do their job without the fear of
being attacked or abused. They attend emergency situations to provide vital
care – for them to be attacked is unacceptable.

"We
have been pleased that over the last couple of years a number of these people
have received custodial sentences and we will continue to press for as many
prosecutions, and the toughest penalties, as possible."

The
LAS first raised the issue of violence against crews in December 2000 and has
since introduced a number of initiatives to address the problem. These have
included the appointment of a staff safety officer and the introduction of
personal safety training to help staff break away from violent situations and
seek help.

By Ben Willmott

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