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  1. ITV Report

Police officer describes being attacked as assaults on emergency workers rise

Almost 900 emergency workers were attacked in south Wales in the last 12 months.

South Wales Police says hundreds of workers were attacked, one year after new legislation was introduced to allow stricter sentences for those who assault blue-light workers.

PC Kelda Griffiths has opened up about the violence she has experience as an officer for Gwent Police

In May 2018 she was off duty with her arm in a plaster when she tackled a woman wielding a hammer.

PC Griffiths' actions kept others from harm but she has described being bitten and having her eye gouged in the confrontation.

After 16 years in the force, she said "the violence has increased and escalated."

It's become worse, the respect has decreased a lot. There's very little respect there for us now. I've been spat at, I've been punched in the face.

– PC Kelda Griffiths, Gwent Police

PC Griffiths won a bravery award for her actions 18 months on she's still recovering from her injuries and is awaiting an operation to repair her knee.

The law was introduced in November 2018, with South Wales Police confirming that since then, 868 assaults have been reported against emergency workers in south Wales, with charges brought in about 62 per cent of cases.

The Act makes attacks on emergency workers including police, ambulance, fire crews and prison officers an aggravating feature for sentencing, and introduced a new offence for minor assaults against emergency workers.

South Wales Police Chief Constable Matt Jukes says the number of assaults on emergency personnel who are doing their job is still 'unacceptably high'.

I am constantly in awe of the dedication, determination and courage shown by our officers and staff who put themselves in harm's way to tackle violent offenders on behalf of others, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in our society.

But there is never any justification for attacking those who are doing an extraordinary job in keeping South Wales safe – but are still just doing their job.

– Chief Constable Matt Jukes, South Wales Police

He continued: “Nobody comes to work in order to be punched, kicked, spat at, bitten, or threatened, and yet in too many cases this is exactly what happens. Our officers and staff go about their job in an exceptional way, but they are still people like you and I – not punchbags.

“Similarly, other emergency personnel are committed public servants, and anyone who thinks they have free rein to attack them should expect to be dealt with severely by the criminal justice system.

“The resilience of officers when they are attacked is inspiring, but they should never have to be put in that position.

“The courts now have more power to deal with these offenders, but the fact that almost 870 assaults on emergency workers were reported in the last 12 months shows there is still some way to go.”

Assaults against our emergency service workers are unacceptable. We welcome any initiative to ensure that those who assault our blue light colleagues are dealt with robustly by the Criminal Justice System.

Assaults have continued to rise against our hard working officers, which increased by 30 per cent over the past two years. All our emergency service workers deserve protection for doing the incredibly difficult work they do in day in and day out.

– Steve Treharne, Chair of the South Wales Police Federation

South Wales Police released this footage taken from a body-worn camera showing a police officer being kicked and bitten by a man at Morriston Hospital: