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Shropshire Star comment: 999 staff must have protection

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The rise in the number of attacks on emergency services staff is deeply troubling.

Staff who man ambulances, police vehicles, fire engines and our accident and emergency wards must be able to go about their business without fear of physical or verbal assault.

At present, that is not the case. People who perform everyday miracles go about their work in constant fear as members of the public take pot shots at them.

It is important to take a stand. We cannot allow the normalisation of such behaviour. We must insist upon better protection for emergency workers and ensure that the police and courts take the strongest line against the cowards and bullies who perpetuate such crimes.

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Lest we forget, the group of people who find themselves on the receiving end are those who are charged with keeping us safe, often at their own risk. As a society, we ought to be respectful of their work, or even deferential.

And yet there are still those who choose to verbally or physically abuse these people. It is unacceptable. The punishment for those found guilty of such behaviour should be severe, sending out a clear message that attacks on emergency staff will simply not be tolerated.

It is interesting to consider where we might be if those who put themselves in the firing line decided to down tools and not deal with the miscreants who attack them. Who could blame the fireman for walking away from an incident if stones were thrown? Who could blame the policeman for driving back to the station if he or she were punched in the face? Who could blame the ambulance driver for refusing to go to a problem estate? And who could blame the A&E worker for refusing to administer medicine or care to a person who was abusive and violent?

Not one of our emergency workers take such a line. They are patient and tolerant to a fault. They put their work first, rather than any personal feelings. They are professional at all times and serve the wider community.

And so it is time that the full force of the law were brought to bear against those responsible for such odious and unpleasant behaviour. We cannot and will not tolerate our emergency crews being injured, attacked or abused.

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