22 May 2018
DUP MLA Paul Frew has said that attacks on ambulance staff must stop, and the penalties which exist for those guilty of such attacks must be used to send a clear deterrent message.
Mr Frew secured a change in the law to ensure the punishment for those convicted of attacks on paramedics matched those for attacks on police officers and firefighters.
Commenting on the latest figures which showed there have been 483 abuse cases against ambulance staff in 2017/18 the North Antrim MLA said:
“Our ambulance staff, and all those working in emergency medicine operate within a very difficult environment. Those who would attack those staff in any way are not just increasing the pressures upon our health service, but are attacking staff who are doing an invaluable job on behalf of the community.
Within the 483 abuse incidents reported in 2017/18 there will have been physical assault and violence. The law places such attacks on a par with those against police officers and firefighters and it is vital that incidents are prosecuted and those responsible facing the full weight of the law.
Successful prosecutions through the courts would send out a very clear message of how seriously such incidents are viewed. It is clear however that both for ambulance crews and firefighters, such prosecutions have not been forthcoming.
A clear deterrent combined with a strong message of education about the impact these attacks have on the service delivered to us all can hopefully see this situation improve.”