THE GMB is calling for tough action after shocking new figures revealed that sex attacks on ambulance workers have more than tripled in the last five years.
According to the results of freedom of information requests submitted by the union, there have been at least 688 sexual assaults on ambulance staff since 2012-13.
In 2012-13 there were 53 recorded sexual assaults; by 2016-17, the most recently available figures for a full year, the total had rocketed to 165.
And in eye-opening accounts given to the union, ambulance workers confessed to falling victim to a whole range of attacks, including one “fallen on by an aggressive patient whilst in the ambulance.”
Another said: “A known regular caller forced me against a wall with the intention of sexually assaulting me.”
A third added: “I was the victim of a sustained incident which began with verbal and sexual abuse and harassment.
“My assailant indecently exposed himself, made lewd derogatory sexual remarks and gestures, grabbed hold of me and twisted my arm, also kicked out at me and again tried to grab hold of me.”
Ambulance workers have said their experiences have left them feeling frightened to work alone and respond to calls from male patients. Further psychological effects outside of work have included struggling to go out and be around friends and family, with children upset and unable to sleep.
An Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill from Labour’s Rhondda MP Chris Bryant goes before the Commons on Friday.
If it is passed, most types of assaults on emergency service workers will automatically be treated as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
However, the GMB says that, as it stands, sexual assaults will not be included in the proposed legislation. The union is demanding a change to the Bill to widen its scope.
The union and Mr Bryant have written to Justice Minister Rory Stewart, calling on him to back an amendment to the Bill.
GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “The fact this is happening to our ambulance workers as they try to save lives is particularly sickening.
“These figures show there is a national problem with disgusting attacks on emergency workers, and it’s getting worse.
“The government could confront abusive and unacceptable behaviour with the stroke of a pen.
“Make no mistake: these are among the most horrific and harrowing cases emergency workers can and do face in the line of duty.
“GMB is calling for sexual assaults to be included in this new legislation to help give our ambulance staff the reassurance they need to get on with the job.
“These heroes keep us safe every day, and the least they can expect is being kept safe at work.”
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