Bedfordshire fire crews attacked dozens of times as police vow to use "full force of the law"

They've been physically abused and had objects thrown at them

By Reporter
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:42 pm

Bedfordshire firefighters have been attacked or verbally abused dozens of times in just over a decade, 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 Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service were at the centre of 52 of those incidents, with four attacks recorded by the fire service in the year to March.

Crews were subject to five incidents of physical abuse, had objects thrown at them on seven occasions, had verbal abuse directed at them 31 times, experienced two episodes of harassment and dealt with at least seven other aggressive incidents

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.

Since recording began just over a decade ago, just one firefighter in Bedfordshire has been left physically injured following an attack.

During that time, crews were subject to five incidents of physical abuse, had objects thrown at them on seven occasions, had verbal abuse directed at them 31 times, experienced two episodes of harassment and dealt with at least seven 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.

And the true figures could be higher, as those reported only reflect assaults experienced during operational incidents and do not take into consideration abuse that has taken place at or around fire stations or as crews are carrying out fire prevention work, for example.

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 per cent of incidents recorded by fire services since 2010-11.

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

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said it is 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.”