An increase in attacks on London’s emergency services was revealed today as police and paramedics said spitting, punching and kicking were becoming commonplace.
Attacks on Met police officers have risen about 13 per cent over 12 months, to 5,606, following a 25 per cent hike in the previous year.
London Ambulance Service staff suffer about 500 physical attacks a year and more than 800 cases of verbal abuse and threats.
The scale of the problem emerged today as the Awesome Movement campaign encouraging greater public appreciation for 999 staff was launched.
A London-wide bus tour of hospitals, police and fire stations distributed free coffee, doughnuts and sandwich vouchers to uniformed staff.
Pc Deniz Jaffer, 46, was attacked in June after being called to The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, to a patient who was aggressive to NHS staff. “He had HIV and TB,” Pc Jaffer said. “He tried to transfer his blood to me to pass on HIV. We did have a ‘bit of a roll around’ and he clamped his teeth on my arm. He bit very hard and did break the skin.”
Pc Jaffer had to wait until two weeks ago for the results of a blood test to come back negative. The man is being prosecuted. The officer said: “It’s such a common occurrence now it’s not surprising when it happens.”
Pc Agata Broniszewska, 24, was kicked and punched by a man she and two colleagues were trying to apprehend in Oxford Street. “Spitting happens so often,” she said.
- Read more
Inspector Finbar King, 39, said: “People are now more inclined to be ‘hands on’ rather than just give us verbal abuse. The potential is higher for them to kick and spit.” LAS paramedic Caitlin Fiddler, 22, told how a patient spat in her face and told her to “f*** off” when she was trying to treat his head injury last December.
“It was my first encounter with somebody who was really aggressive to me.”
LAS chief executive Garrett Emmerson said 25-30 people a year were convicted of assaulting LAS staff. “Over the course of a year we will lose 260 days of staff sickness for staff who have been physically attacked,” he added.
Michael Howard, who founded Awesome Movement, said: “These guys are doing an amazing job in difficult circumstances.”
Police are appealing for witnesses after an officer was punched in the face as he tried to arrest a burglary suspect in Masefield Lane, Hayes, at 2am on Monday.