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Shotguns, sledgehammers, snooker cues: Full breakdown of attacks on ambulance workers

Written by on 12 September 2020

More than 1,600 physical assaults on UK ambulance workers have been recorded between January and July as the country battled the COVID-19 outbreak – the equivalent of more than seven attacks every day.

There has also been increase in the rate of sexual assaults on ambulance staff so far this year, as well as a rise in vandal attacks on ambulances and verbal abuse incidents against crews, a Sky News investigation has found.

Here, Sky News lists the responses from ambulance services following freedom of information requests asking for details of assaults on ambulance staff amid the coronavirus crisis.

Click here for the full story.

East of England Ambulance Service

  • 157 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 40 sexual assaults
  • 230 verbal abuse incidents
  • No incidents involving weapons
  • Two vandal attacks on ambulances
Image:
Brenda Fox was assaulted while on duty in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, last year. Pic: Kerry Fox

East Midlands Ambulance Service

  • 208 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 19 sexual assaults
  • 297 verbal abuse incidents
  • 37 incidents involving weapons including firearms, knives, razor blades and scissors
  • Six vandal attacks on ambulances

London Ambulance Service

  • 355 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 17 sexual assaults on ambulance workers
  • 239 verbal abuse incidents
  • 16 incidents involving weapons including a baseball bat and a knife
  • Six vandal attacks on ambulances
Two ambulance workers were injured last month after being assaulted. Pic: West Midlands Ambulance Service
Image:
Two ambulance workers were injured last month after being assaulted in Warwickshire. Pic: West Midlands Ambulance Service

North East Ambulance Service

  • 114 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • Eight sexual assaults
  • 185 verbal abuse incidents
  • Three incidents involving weapons including a razor blade, a kitchen knife and a stun gun
  • Seven vandal attacks on ambulances

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

  • 111 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 10 sexual assaults
  • 211 verbal abuse incidents
  • 14 incidents involving weapons against ambulance workers. The ambulance service did not provide an annual breakdown of the type of weapons used but said since 2018 they included a double-barrel shotgun, a gun, a crossbow, a Tomahawk axe, blades, a sledgehammer, a crowbar, a knuckle duster, scissors and a snooker cue
  • One vandal attack on an ambulance
A brick was thrown at an ambulance during an assault in Blyth, Northumberland in July. Pic: North East Ambulance Service
Image:
A brick was thrown at an ambulance during an assault in Blyth, Northumberland, in July. Pic: North East Ambulance Service

North West Ambulance Service

  • 241 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 14 sexual assaults
  • 312 verbal abuse incidents
  • Three incidents involving weapons including a blade and sticks/clubs
  • Two vandal attacks on ambulances

Sky News did not receive a response from Scottish Ambulance Service.

South Central Ambulance Service

  • 129 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • Seven sexual assaults
  • 98 verbal abuse incidents
  • Seven incidents involving weapons including a baseball bat and a knife
  • Two vandal attacks on ambulances (from April to July)
Paramedics Michael Hipgrave and Deena Evans were stabbed during a callout. Pic: West Midlands Ambulance Service
Image:
Paramedics Michael Hipgrave and Deena Evans were stabbed during a callout in Wolverhampton. Pic: West Midlands Ambulance Service

South East Ambulance Service

  • 147 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 10 sexual assaults on ambulance workers
  • 130 verbal abuse incidents
  • The ambulance service did not reveal the number of incidents involving weapons, only saying there were fewer than 10
  • 10 vandal attacks on ambulances

South Western Ambulance Service

  • 103 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • The ambulance service refused to reveal the number of sexual assaults on ambulance workers, saying retrieving the data would exceed cost/time limit set out by the Freedom of Information Act
  • 272 verbal abuse incidents
  • The ambulance service refused to reveal the number of incidents involving weapons against ambulance workers, saying retrieving it would exceed cost/time limit set out by the Freedom of Information Act
  • Nine vandal attacks on ambulances
An ambulance window was smashed during an assault in Blyth, Northumberland in July. Pic: North East Ambulance Service
Image:
An ambulance window was smashed during an assault in Blyth, Northumberland, in July. Pic: North East Ambulance Service

Welsh Ambulance Service

  • 39 physical assaults on ambulance workers
  • 11 sexual assaults or sexual harassment incidents
  • 112 verbal abuse incidents
  • Seven incidents involving weapons. The ambulance service did not provide an annual breakdown of the type of weapons used but said since 2018 they included knives, razor blades, a hammer, bleach, a kettle of boiling water, scissors, a screw driver and a laser light
  • The ambulance service said it did not record the number of vandal attacks on ambulances

West Midlands Ambulance Service

  • 114 physical assaults on ambulance workers (April to 8 July)
  • 13 sexual assaults
  • 216 verbal abuse incidents (April to 8 July)
  • 10 incidents involving weapons against ambulance workers including a knife and a walking stick
  • Two vandal attacks on ambulance vehicles

Yorkshire Ambulance Service provided information on assaults, verbal abuse incidents and vandal attacks from 2018 to July 2020 without an annual breakdown so could not be included.