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Dyfed Powys Police

Work with us, not against us, say emergency workers after rise in assaults

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Assaults on emergency workers in Wales are on the rise, new data has revealed.

More than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.

Assaults ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, slapping, biting and verbal abuse.

More than half (58%) of incidents took place in South East Wales, and over a third (37%) were committed by people under the influence of alcohol.

With pubs set to re-open fully in Wales from Monday, emergency workers are asking the public to treat them with respect, and have the following plea – work with us, not against us.

There were 629 (15%) assaults on Welsh Ambulance Service staff over the 20-month period, from paramedics to control room staff.

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Among them was Paramedic Darren Lloyd, who was assaulted by a patient in Bangor, Gwynedd, in April 2019, a result of which the man was jailed for 16 weeks.

Darren said: “We’d been called to a man who was reported to have taken an overdose, so we administered an antidote to try and revive him.

“When he came to, he punched me twice and said: ‘You’ve f***ed up my last hit.’ I was caught unawares, I wasn’t ready for it.

“Patients put their trust in you and we put our trust in patients, so when something like this happens, it catches you off guard.

“It puts you on edge and it changes you. It makes you hyper-aware at other jobs now, and you question everything a lot more.

“You question why it happened and what you did wrong.”

In a separate incident in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, in May 2019, Emergency Medical Technician ‘Ann’ was also assaulted by a patient, who was later jailed for six months.

The mother-of-three said: “I was pinned to the corner of the inside of the ambulance by a patient who was drunk, and my colleague and a member of the public had to drag him off me.

“He was shouting in my face, kicking me and verbally abusing me.

“In the meantime, an urgent ‘Red’ call came in for a baby who had taken ill so we had to leave.

“I didn’t think it had affected me at the time, but a couple of weeks later, when another patient became irate, I took myself off to the ambulance and burst into tears.

“I saw him in the street when he got out of prison and my heart was in my chest.

“It’s two years on now, but what happened has stayed with me.

“The first thing I do when I go into a patient’s house now is look for the exits.”

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Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs.

“Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised, and this isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all the patient.

“A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, both physically and emotionally.

“The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so now more than ever, we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us.”

Two thirds of the assaults (66%) over the 20-month period were committed against police officers, a third (33%) of which resulted in injury.

More than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers in Wales between April 2019 and November 2020 (Image: Welsh Ambulance Services Trust)

Pam Kelly, Chief Constable at Gwent Police, said: “Emergency services across Wales are committed to doing all that we can to serve the public.

“We can only effectively do our jobs if people work with us and not against us.

“With assaults on emergency workers continuing to rise, we are insisting and appealing for this type of behaviour to stop.

“Too often I see the devastating impact these assaults have on police officers and other emergency workers as they go about their duty to help those in need.

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“It is important to remember that beneath any uniform is a person who has friends, family members and loved ones.

“An assault on any emergency worker is a crime, be that physical or verbal, and will not be tolerated.”

Although fewer in number – 74 incidents over the 20-month period – data shows that assaults on fire and rescue service staff peak in November.

As the first round of Covid-19 restrictions eased in Wales, July 2020 (256 assaults) and August 2020 (253 assaults) saw the highest volume of emergency worker assaults (Image: Welsh Ambulance Services Trust)

Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We too are adding our voice to this appeal for the public to work with us, not against us.   

“The vast majority of people recognise the importance of supporting the fire and rescue service while they respond to a range of emergencies that put people, communities, livelihoods and the environment at risk.  

“Sadly, however, there are a few people who think nothing of subjecting our staff to verbal abuse or of attacking crews while they work.  

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“Nobody should expect to come under any sort of attack whilst potentially saving the lives of others in an emergency.  

“We urge everyone to commit to working with us, not against us.”

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As the first round of Covid-19 restrictions eased in Wales, July 2020 (256 assaults) and August 2020 (253 assaults) saw the highest volume of emergency worker assaults, increasing 20% above the monthly average of 212.

There were just 21 known incidents over the reporting period where an emergency worker was deliberately coughed at by a person who claimed to have Covid-19, but the real figure is thought to be significantly higher.

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Under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, the definition of an emergency worker includes police, fire and ambulance staff, as well as prison staff, search and rescue workers and NHS workers.

Under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, the definition of an emergency worker includes police, fire and ambulance staff, as well as prison staff, search and rescue workers and NHS workers. (Image: Welsh Ambulance Services Trust)

Andrew Goodall, Chief Executive of NHS Wales, said: “Our emergency workers deserve to feel safe as they serve us on the frontline.

“Now more than ever, we should appreciate the work they do and do everything we can to reduce their risk of being exposed to violence.

“We need the public to treat them with respect and let them do their jobs.

“Behind their uniform they are human beings and when they are exposed to violence it can have a significant effect on their lives.”

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Andrew Hynes, Chair of the NHS Wales Anti-Violence Collaborative, which was set up to improve the reporting of incidents and better support victims through the prosecution process, added: “It is a sad indictment on society when some people feel they are entitled to physically or verbally abuse NHS staff.

“The impact of just a single incident is much greater than people realise.

“The response of the police, Crown Prosecution Service and the courts is swift and efficient, and the consequences of a momentary lapse in judgement will lead to extremely serious punishments being applied.

“We ask that people act considerately and with patience when seeking or receiving medical care.”

In 2018, the maximum sentence under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act was doubled from six months to 12 months in prison, but criminals could soon face up to two years in prison under new laws.

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Tony Dicken, District Crown Prosector for CPS Cymru Wales, said: “Any assault or abuse of an emergency workers is viewed extremely seriously by the CPS.

“The fact that the victim has been providing a service to the public is highlighted as an aggravating feature of the offence when courts pass sentence, which can increase the penalty given.

“Emergency workers are there to help the public and should be able to do so safely and without fear.

“The CPS is committed to using the full weight of the law to protect them.”

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The With Us Not Against Us campaign is spearheaded by the Joint Emergency Service Group (JESG) in Wales, which is comprised of the blue light services, Armed Forces, NHS Wales and Welsh Government, to consider cross-service issues of mutual interest.

Pledge your support and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #WithUsNotAgainstUs or #GydaNiNidYnEinHerbyn.

(Lead image: Welsh Ambulance Services Trust)


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Ammanford

Man who filmed rape on Ammanford victim’s phone changes plea mid trial

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A man who filmed himself raping an Ammanford woman on his victim’s phone has changed his plea to guilty midway through his trial.

Cameron Hassan, aged 31, of no fixed abode, attacked the woman, raping her as she slept on 21 August 2021.

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Hassan had been on trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying any wrongdoing. However, after the jury was shown the video of the attack and hearing the victim was going to give evidence yesterday (Tuesday, 10 May), Hassan changed his plea to guilty.

Investigating Officer DC Sophie Lambert from Dyfed Powys Police said the victim had shown great strength and determination throughout the investigation.

“I must commend her tremendous courage in coming forward and the tenacity shown throughout the investigation,” she said.

“We hope this case demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police acts on serious allegations such as rape and sexual assault with officers working tirelessly to secure justice for victims.

“If you are suffering because of similar abuse, please contact the police, or if you would rather speak to someone in confidence, New Pathways are an independent charity that will support you through every step of the investigation.”

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New Pathways can be contacted at 01685 379 310 or email enquiries@newpathways.org.uk

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Ammanford

Police appeal after cyclist dies in Garnant accident

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Dyfed Powys Police have issued an appeal after a cyclist died in a single vehicle road traffic collision on Friday (6 May).

The accident took place around 8.45pm outside the Discovery Book Shop on Cwmamman Road in Garnant, Ammanford.

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A spokesperson for Dyfed Powys Police said: “Sadly the 58 year-old male rider of the pedal cycle sustained serious injuries and passed away in hospital.

“We are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen the pedal cycle at the relevant time, or who may have dashcam footage if they travelled along this stretch of road at the time, to get in touch.

“Also local residents and business owners are asked to contact Police if they have any CCTV footage covering the location.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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