Date Published : August 30th, 2013 Published By : adminAssaults on emergency service personnel have reached a five-year high, according to figures released by the Department of Justice. In 2011, the latest data available, there were 309 recorded incidents of alleged assault with 69 convictions and 66 non-convictions. Between 2006 and 2011, there were 1,551 recorded incidents.
The figures include Gardai, fire and ambulance personnel, prison officers, members of the defence forces, and anyone giving medical assistance in a hospital. These figures also refer to incidents where a person resisted lawful arrest or where a person obstructed a peace officer in the execution of their duty.
In 2010, 248 alleged assaults were recorded, which resulted in 87 convictions and 53 non-convictions. The year before, in 2009, 281 assaults were recorded with 98 convictions and 50 non-convictions. However, the Department of Justice also urged caution when interpreting the figures as it can take time for cases to progress through the courts. “All figures are provisional and may be subject to further revision,” a spokesperson added.
The HSE is currently creating new approaches for the management of aggression and violence, which will form part of the national policy document currently being developed. As part of this, 497 unit managers were surveyed by the Executive on risk assessment and control measures, as well as the training for managing violence and aggression. The State Claims Agency together with the HSE is also creating a baseline of incidences of aggression and violence. Violence against healthcare staff has been flagged as a problem for the last number of years. According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Authority, last year 219 non-fatal accidents were caused by ‘Aggression, fright, shock and violence’ in the ‘Human Health and Social Activities’ category. This was also the highest of any group.
Late last year, a Fianna Fáil Dáil motion calling for a minimum five-year jail sentence for anyone convicted of assaulting or threatening the life of a front-line emergency worker was defeated.