Attacks on frontline workers 'rife'
More than 400 frontline workers in the health, emergency service and transport sectors are attacked on duty each week across the UK, fresh figures have revealed.
Freedom of Information data from hospital trusts, emergency services, the transport sector and Government departments show 65,970 workers were attacked on duty in the last three years, equal to around 420 incidents a week.
A new report from the Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives, which collected the data, calls for the transport sector and emergency services to begin trials of affordable wearable technology, such as wearable panic buttons and body worn cameras.
GLA Conservative crime spokesman Roger Evans, author of the report, said: "We depend on frontline workers whether it's a medical emergency or getting us to work.
"These people need to be treated with respect.
"Shockingly, I have uncovered figures which show that violence against people like nurses, cabbies and receptionists is rife.
"They are being punched, kicked, scratched, threatened and spat on every day whilst doing their job.
"Affordable wearable technology, such as wearable panic buttons and body worn cameras, will help bolster the security and protection of these essential workers."
The research has revealed that 12,386 physical assaults have been reported on staff working in acute services such as hospital emergency departments, maternity wards and medical imaging units.
A total of 11,336 first responders and paramedics have been assaulted in the period, the most affected being London, North West and South Western Ambulance Services.
Some 22,056 police officers and 1,077 PCSOs have been attacked while on duty in England and Wales, while 6,045 rail staff have been physically and verbally attacked.
Graham Brinkhurst, a London taxi driver for 16 years, was attacked in February after picking up a young couple in Camden. He said: "I'd driven 100 yards down a one-way system with them when the man asked me to turn right.
"He became insistent despite the fact that it was not possible to turn off in the first place. He got more and more abusive and repeatedly called me names such as f****** d*******.
"I suggested to them that it would be best if we end the journey and they get another cab. As I pulled over, left the cab, and opened the back door to let them out, the guy pushed me aggressively.
"I stumbled backwards and fell on to the kerb, breaking my thigh bone. Eventually, a passer-by called the ambulance for me. I was off work for three months and lost about £7,000 in income."
The report calls for a one-year pilot of 100 wearable real-time GPS panic button devices to be trialled by staff such as bus and taxi drivers and those in overground and train stations.
Similarly, it calls for a one-year pilot of 100 body-worn cameras for frontline London ambulance crews and a further 100 on-vehicle CCTV cameras on ambulances, costing an estimated £106,000.