When calling 999, think about the people at the other end of the line. In many cases, they are subjected to terrible verbal abuse and threats.
So, emergency services from across the South West are working together to highlight the unacceptable rise of violence and abuse towards their 999 Emergency Control hub staff, with the continuation of the #Unacceptable campaign.
With Easter one of the busiest times of the year for emergency staff, the services are expecting a sharp increase in incident calls over the holiday period with many extra visitors to the region.
Police, ambulance, fire and healthcare staff are regularly subjected to attacks including serious injury, verbal abuse, spitting and biting, and even sexual assault from those they are trying to help.
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Davies on behalf of Devon & Cornwall Police said: “It’s not just frontline paramedic teams and police officers who face violence, 999 Control hub staff are finding that they are increasingly subjected to abuse when taking emergency calls. In some cases, emergency call handlers have had death threats to them and their family and these are innocent staff who are trying to get emergency care to patients.
Our officers and staff, along with other emergency services colleagues, demonstrate commitment, courage and dedication on a daily basis. They signed up to helping and protecting the public, not coming into work each day with the risk of being assaulted. The impact this can have on them, their colleagues and their families can have lasting effects long after physical scars have healed.
“Together, the emergency services want to ensure our personnel can deliver the best possible service to our communities; but in order to do this, we need injury-free and healthy workforces. We will not tolerate assaults on our emergency services and will seek to bring criminal proceedings against offenders. I welcome the new law to double the maximum sentence from six months to 12 months for assaulting an emergency services worker.”
Sandy Brooks, Head of Contact Management & Communications, Devon & Cornwall Police said: “Our emergency call takers are committed to safeguarding those who need our help. They deal with highly charged, emotional situations where people’s lives can be at risk. Receiving verbal abuse when they are trying to do their best for the caller, is unhelpful at best, and at worst could lead to a delay in getting a police response to someone who really needs it. Aggression, abuse and obstructive behaviour harms emergency services personnel, the very people that the public look to for help in their time of need and such behaviours will not tolerated.”