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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK
Call for law on fire crew attacks
Fire-fighters (generic)
Attacks on fire crews are on the increase, says the fire union
Fire crews are increasingly facing attacks in many small south Wales valleys communities, according to new research for the Fire Brigades Union.

The study pointed to a series of attacks in villages since autumn 2003, when fires were started deliberately to lure crews in.

Fire fighters were then pelted with stones and bricks by teenage gangs.

The union's Welsh secretary has called for a new law to make assaulting an emergency worker a distinct offence.

The FBU's Regional Secretary, Dick Pearson, said fire crews in Wales had experienced levels of attacks in the past two years which compared with those of inner cities.

There has to be some kind of central coordination, joined up action, over initiatives to tackle this problem.
Dick Pearson

He said: "It's frightening. Even when you are attacked by kids of seven, eight or nine, if you have a group of them around you trying to rob things off you or throwing stones, it's a pretty ugly environment.

"With older youngsters, clearly that is definitely frightening, but it also distracts us from doing our job.

"We make some high-stake decisions and some of them are time-critical as well.

"If you are distracted by people trying to take things off you fire engine, or there're missiles coming your way, then we're never going to be able to deliver the service that we know we can deliver."


The FBU study singled out attacks in Pontypool, Aberfan, Gilfach Goch, and Ely in Cardiff in 2004. There were also incidents in Merthyr Tydfil - in the village of Trelewis, and on the town's Galon Uchaf estate, the previous year.

Mr Pearson, who is based in Port Talbot, said attacks on fire crews was a growing problem in the UK. Although there were around 2,000 recorded incidents a year, there was a serious problem of under-reporting, he said.

"There has to be some kind of central coordination, joined up action, over initiatives to tackle this problem," he said.

"Given the scale of the problem and the fact that it affects rural and small communities as well as the inner cities, there needs to some sort of taskforce set up which includes stake holders in the fire service and government.

"In Scotland, there is legislation making it distinct criminal offence to attack an emergency service worker.

"In Wales, the Welsh assembly does not have law-making powers. That may be one key element."

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