West Yorkshire Police (WYP) is standing shoulder to shoulder with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) in a commitment to stopping attacks on firefighters and taking every action possible to catch those responsible for such mindless behaviour.
During November, police began to trial training days with firefighters on recognising the signs of public order and how to defuse potentially volatile situations. This followed Bonfire Night 2017, which saw 16 recorded attacks on fire crews across West Yorkshire as they tried to keep people and property safe. Senior WYP police officers have furthered their support by signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WYFRS chief officers to ensure the two blue light services are working as efficiently as possible together to crackdown on perpetrators.
Verbal and physical abuse towards firefighters while in the course of their employment has been on a steady rise across West Yorkshire for the last five years, with a particular spike in the last two years. The worst attacks are generally characterised by the throwing of stones or fireworks towards firefighters or fire appliances.
This year WYFRS launched a publicity campaign called More Than A Uniform to appeal to people’s conscience and highlight the fact that the people behind the uniform are only human, with families, personal lives and dependants.
In the latest move, the service have established a Memorandum of Understanding with West Yorkshire Police, which will ensure fast and effective reporting, investigation and, where possible, prosecution, following an attack on a member of Fire Service staff.
Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said, “It is a sad reality that our firefighters are being attacked whilst going about the course of their work protecting people and property. Whilst the attacks are commonly around the Bonfire season, they have continued since then and are happening all year round. The police are equally as appalled by this as us and we welcome their backing in condemning these attacks and ensuring that together we capture the best evidence and do everything we can to bring perpetrators to justice.”
West Yorkshire Chief Constable Dee Collins said, “The emergency services risk their lives to protect the public and it is totally unacceptable that they should be subject to assault and attack. In signing this MOU, we want to send a message to the public that this is intolerable.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, is also strongly in support of the MOU. He said, “As joint Chair of the Tri-Services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) Collaboration Board, I know the incredible job that emergency workers do running towards danger as they try to keep our communities safe and feeling safe. I know the importance of agreeing this MOU is to ensure a process and expectations are in place on both sides to make sure those committing these despicable attacks on our emergency workers face the consequences because the relevant evidence has been gathered that gives the best possible chance of a prosecution where necessary. Perpetrators need to consider the recklessness of their actions and know that they will rightly face strong action and possible prosecution, this MOU goes a long way to ensuring this happens and I was keen for our Tri-Services Collaboration to make this statement of intent.”