image copyrightLAS

image captionViolence reduction officers will support victims who want to take their cases to court

Violence reduction officers have been employed by an ambulance service to help protect staff from being attacked.

London Ambulance Service (LAS) said assaults on crews increased as lockdown restrictions began to ease

A total of 260 physical assaults were recorded from 1 April to 31 August – 172 were attacks including kicking, punching, head-butting and biting.

Two protection officers will work with the Met Police to support staff who want to take their cases to court.

There were also 380 reports of non-physical assaults on LAS staff, including verbal abuse, threats of weapons and urinating on ambulances.

Joel Blacker was working as an Emergency Ambulance Crew when he answered a 999 call to a man who had collapsed in a street in Islington, north London.

The 27-year-old, who is a former Met police officer, said: “I went to help but the intoxicated patient grabbed me by the throat with both hands and started pushing me.

image captionJoel Blacker was assaulted as he tried to treat an intoxicated man in Islington

“At the time, I didn’t realise what he had done. It was only when I got to hospital, I found out the attack could have killed me. I had fractured my neck.

“Doctors were worried my airways would swell up and that I would suffocate.”

Joel’s attacker was fined and given community service.

Louise Murray, who is one of the violence reduction officers, said: “Aggression against our staff can leave them in fear, it can lead to PTSD and cause all sorts of mental health problems.

“I’ve seen the increase in assaults and know the impact it can have – I’ve been assaulted myself.

“We will do everything we can to support someone who has been attacked and that includes trying to ensure the attacker is prosecuted.”

There were 625 reported physical attacks in 2019 and a further 713 non-physical assaults, which include threats and verbal abuse.

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