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Emergency Services: Crimes of Violence

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland were charged with attacking emergency service workers in each of the last five years. (164446)

While there is no specific offence of attacking emergency service workers, the following tables set out the number of offences against the person and criminal damage offences recorded and cleared where:

the primary occupation of the victim is recorded as the emergency services (although it is not known whether they were on or off duty at the time of the offence) or;

the details recorded of the victim indicate “emergency services”—this denotes a general offence against an emergency service rather than a named individual (for instance an attack on a manned police vehicle or ambulance).

The term “offences against the person” covers a range of matters of varying severity, from minor incidents to more serious assaults.

Offences against the person where the victim's primary occupation is “emergency services”1

Offences cleared by means of charge/summons

2002-03

1,626

2003-04

1,748

2004-05

1,861

2005-06

2,121

2006-07

2,315

1Offences against the person include offences of assault on police.

Criminal damage where the victim is listed as “emergency services”

Offences cleared by means of charge/summons

2002-03

140

2003-04

191

2004-05

212

2005-06

211

2006-07

282

The PSNI have stressed that these figures include all the emergency services, and that they encompass many incidents which, while categorised as “offences against the person”, are relatively minor in nature. The majority relate to interactions between police and public during arrests, interventions in assaults etc. rather than deliberate premeditated attacks on police.

During recent years, as policing with the community embeds, officers are having more and closer interactions with the public during night time economy operations and therefore are more likely to intervene in tense situations.