'Repugnant' attacks on firefighters see slight dip as chiefs strive to end incidents

‘Repugnant’ attacks on firefighters in Tyne and Wear fell this year, but bosses are still striving to eliminate them completely.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 6:00 am
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The latest figures for 2019 showed there have been six attacks on crews, with slightly less than half a month to go until 2020, although no one was injured in the incidents.

But the level of abuse facing emergency services prompted chiefs to roll out body worn cameras to staff in October in a bid to clamp down on the issue.

“There were six reported attacks on firefighters, which although it was a decrease, our target has got to be zero,” said assistant chief fire officer (ACFO) Alan Robson, “we have to make sure there is zero tolerance of this.

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“No injuries were sustained by firefighters in those attacks, but we continue to work with Northumbria Police to prevent these attacks occurring.

“From October 21 we introduced body worn cameras across the service to protect our firefighters from attacks and this will allow us to gather evidence which aids police investigations.”

ACFO Robson was speaking at a meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, which heard there were eight attacks on fire fighters in 2018.

He added attacks had taken place this year in all the local authority areas covered by the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and that ‘as yet’ no body cam footage had been requested by police for use in a prosecution.

However, a video extract showing a firework being thrown at a firefighter has been used on social media to raise awareness of the problem.

According to a report, the brigades ‘frontline’ vehicles have each been allocated two cameras, while Targeted Response Vehicles (TRV’s) have one, with cameras worn by the officer in charge at every incident.

Tom Woodwark, a Liberal Democrat member of the fire authority, said: “I know [attacks] happen every year and I shouldn’t get angry and there’s not very nice people around who do this kind of thing, but it is entirely repugnant.

“To have to have a target of zero when that should be first and foremost what we as humans want to do really makes me quite angry.

“I think body worn cameras are a fantastic tool for fire services and the more they can be used I think is good for the service.”