Serious question: Who is protecting the protectors?

With recent attacks on Police Officers, can Health and Safety help reduce the number of attacks on not only the UK’s Police Force but the Fire and Ambulance services too?

As someone who works within the Health and Safety industry who also has friends who are serving Police Officers I would like to ask not only the HSE People network but each member of our network’s wider network is there is a solution to this growing problem? I was going to concentrate on just the Police but then it dawned on me that all 3 of the emergency services are open to attacks by eejits whilst simply doing their jobs which is to keep US safe.

Do we have a responsibility to assist a member of the Emergency Services when they themselves are in danger? What would happen if we were to intervene and someone were to get injured or worse killed as a result of our actions?

Some statistics for us all to think about-

Police Service 

Attacks on Police Officers has risen by a third over the past 4 years according to SkyNews. In the past MONTH PC Andrew Harper was murdered whilst on duty and PC Stuart Outten was stabbed in the head whilst doing a routine vehicle stop. PC Andrew Harper had very recently got married, he was due to go on his honeymoon next week.

No alt text provided for this image

PC Andrew Harper celebrated his wedding at Ardington House, a Georgian manor in Oxfordshire. Credit: PA/Mark Lord Photography

In 2017/18 there were 10,399 reported attacks where Police Officers were injured whilst protecting the public, up from 7,903 in 2015/16 with a further 20,578 attacks of Officers where they were not injured. In a nutshell attacks on Police Officers are on the rise having risen by 18% in the last 12 months to March 2019.

Fire Service 

The Fire Brigade Union published a report in 2005 stating that between 1st of April 2004 and 30th of January 2005 there were 781 attacks on Firefighters in England, Scotland and Wales.

These attacks consist of the following,

  • Missiles thrown
  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Harassment

Home Office statistics show that that in the 2016/17 there were 738 attacks with 56 injuries – a reduction of 43


In 2017/18, 23,009 (63 a DAY) attacks were reported at hospital trusts in just England. NHS staff were injured 8,367 times in assaults in 2017/18.

As of 19th April 2019 thetrusts recorded just 216 criminal sanctions against attackers.

Source – Mirror

On the 13th September 2018 the “The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill” was given Royal Assent meaning it will become a specific offence to assault health care staff who provide NHS funded care and other emergency workers in England and Wales. A copy can be found here.

A few questions –

  • Are there measures that can be put in place to prevent attacks?
  • Why aren’t they in place already?
  • Should the Health and Safety community work with the Emergency Services to reduce the attacks?

I believe the Health and Safety of the brave men and women protecting OUR Health and Safety needs to be addressed!