One union chief representing North East ambulance workers confirmed last night that members had approached him before regarding this issue. Peter Warren, the managing director of an Oxfordshire-based body armor company, which supplies vests mainly to the National Health Service (NHS), also said he had received inquiries from the region. This firm has supplied 10,000 stab vests to local government workers, primarily NHS staff.There have also been school workers wanting this assistance.
After being advised by the Department of Health to receive additional stab vests, frontline emergency service workers have the permission. There have already been paramedics wearing this sort of protection in the North East area, but other staff is waiting for the go ahead in this matter.
Joel Byers, Unison branch secretary for North East ambulance service personally said: “I know some people want them, and some people don’t, but if we provide stab vests they would have to be worn all the time whilst on duty, regardless of the job. It can’t be left to individual choice.”
This still hasn’t deterred the people that want this protection, but of course the people that don’t want this protection still whole-heartedly disagree with it.
“What I find really sad is that the ambulance service is even having to discuss the issue – ambulance staffs are being assaulted for doing their job and it’s a very sad sign of the times,” Joel Byers adds.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson earmarked £97m for extra security for NHS workers in the past.The concerns come amid rising numbers of knife attacks in the UK in general, and following a number of stabbings in his specific region in the past few years. Decisions over whether to give council workers stab vests has also been made by individual authorities, a local government association spokesman stated.
He added: “Council workers come into contact with every household across the country in some capacity. Obviously the risk that staff face varies enormously, and their level of protection needs to be both sensible and proportionate. Councils will not hesitate to use the appropriate measures to deal with any risk of attack.”
Labour MP for Tynemouth Alan Campbell, also in support of additional protection, said stab vests should be made available to frontline emergency workers: “These are drastic measures, but if public sector workers who find themselves in potentially dangerous situations ask for added protection, then of course we should make it available to them.
“But I also think if someone has been attacked in the line of duty it should be taken into account during sentencing. Courts have to reflect public feeling on this and the public wants people who carry knives to be locked up.”
Up to date, more people of the North East region have enjoyed the benefits of the sponsored protection. More than one body armor manufacturer has pitched in to make working on the job for the paramedics a little safer.