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Ambulance Services: Crimes of Violence

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many physical assaults on staff of NHS ambulance service trusts were reported in each of the last three financial years; (307430)

(2) how many (a) prosecutions were brought and (b) cautions or conditional cautions were issued following assaults against NHS staff in ambulance service trusts in each of the last three financial years;

(3) what the average cost per unit is of protective anti-stab vests suitable for use by NHS ambulance trust frontline emergency response personnel;

(4) which NHS ambulance trusts (a) do and (b) do not issue protective anti-stab vests as standard to their frontline emergency response personnel;

(5) what guidance has been issued to NHS ambulance trusts on the provision of protective anti-stab vests for frontline emergency response personnel.

Since 2004-05, the number of physical assaults against staff reported by national health service bodies in England has been collected annually by the NHS Security Management Service (SMS). The number of physical assaults on staff of NHS ambulance service trusts in England reported in each of the last three financial years is shown in the following table.

Assaults

2006-07

1,006

2007-08

1,465

2008-09

1,240

Information on the numbers of prosecutions, cautions and conditional cautions issued following assaults against NHS staff in ambulance service trusts in each of the last three financial years is not available centrally in the format requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Since 2004-05, the SMS has collated annual figures on all types of reported criminal sanctions following cases of assault. The number of such sanctions reported in each of the last three financial years is shown in the following table.

Criminal sanctions

2006-07

142

2007-08

237

2008-09

241

Criminal sanctions include:

cautions and conditional cautions;

community rehabilitation or punishment orders;

imprisonment, including suspended sentences;

conditional discharges; and

fines.

Information on the average cost per unit is of protective anti-stab vests suitable for use by NHS ambulance trust frontline emergency response personnel is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Decisions on providing protective equipment for ambulance service staff, whether as standard or following risk assessment, are for the employing trusts to make. Information on which NHS ambulance trusts issue protective anti-stab vests as standard to their frontline emergency response personnel is not available centrally.

The SMS can assist employers through guidance on assessing risks and acting to protect staff and, where incidents do occur, on taking action against offenders. The SMS also works with stakeholders, including the Social Partnership Forum, to promote the safety and security of NHS staff. In 2006 the SMS issued the results of a study into the use of protective equipment for ambulance staff, conducted as part of the “Safer Hospitals Project”. The information provided in this study informs ambulance trusts on the issues they should consider when assessing whether to provide protective anti-stab vests for frontline emergency response personnel.