Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Minister signs first UK agreement to end attacks on fire-fighters

Social Justice & Local Government Minister Dr Brian Gibbons has given his support to plans by Welsh emergency services and the Crown Prosecution Service to end attacks on fire-fighters.

The Minister joined the Fire & Rescue Service, Police and Crown Prosecution Service at Ely Fire Station to sign The UK’s first Memorandum of Understanding ensuring the effective prosecution of cases involving abuse against FRS personnel.

Dr Gibbons said:

"Fire-fighters and those who support the work of our Fire and Rescue Services do a difficult and sometimes dangerous job. They enjoy the respect, support and admiration of the overwhelming majority of us, though for a few anti-social individuals they are seen as ‘fair game’, to be goaded, abused and attacked while undertaking their work.

"Though incidents are relatively few, it is a sad indictment of our society that emergency workers have come to view such behaviour as an occupational hazard. However, I applaud the Fire and Rescue Service, Police and Crown Prosecution Service, for bringing the issue to public attention.

"By signing this Memorandum, we are sending out a clear message to our emergency workers that they do not have to put up with such behaviour and we will support them; and to the perpetrators, that they will be punished."

Steve Skivens, Assistant Chief Officer from South Wales Fire & Rescue Service said:

"Although the numbers of attacks are low, certain areas have a persistent issue where Fire Service personnel can be subject to attacks.

"One attack is too many the Fire & Rescue Service has taken a number of practical and procedural measures to protect our personnel, identify attackers and work in partnership to seek a prosecution."

South Wales Assistant Chief Constable David Morris said:

"Fire and rescue service personnel across Wales protect the public and have the support of all but a tiny minority of individuals who inexplicably engage in mindless attacks on crews. This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable and this MOU is a clear statement from the four police forces in Wales that we take a zero tolerance approach to any attacks on fire service personnel, whether it be verbal or physical, and will do all that we can to bring the culprits to justice.

"As we approach what is the busiest time of the year for the fire and rescue services, it provides us all with a timely reminder of the vital role they play and of the need to ensure that they can go about their business without being subjected to unlawful interference which, potentially, could put lives at risk.

"I would appeal to any member of the public who does witness such behaviour to work with us to ensure that we apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice".

Chris Woolley, Chief Crown Prosecutor for South Wales said:

"Firefighters and support staff provide a vital service to the public – and they have the right to undertake that role without fear of intimidation, abuse or direct attack.

"The launch of this MOU sends out a very clear message of intent. We will work alongside our partners in the Criminal Justice System to make sure that anyone who resorts to criminal behaviour in order to interfere with the essential work of the Fire and Rescue Service, is brought to justice."


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