Attacks on South Wales firefighters 'almost treble'

Firefighter jackets and helmets
Image caption Almost half of the attacks involved objects being thrown at firefighters and appliances

Attacks on firefighters across south Wales have almost trebled in the past year, new figures have shown.

South Wales Fire and Rescue reported 31 incidents between April 2016 and March 2017, up from 12 in the previous year.

It said crews had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse, including having bricks thrown at them.

North Wales and Mid and West Wales fire services did not have figures when asked, but said they had a zero tolerance approach to attacks.

The areas in south Wales which had the highest number of attacks on firefighters include Blaenau Gwent (13%), Caerphilly county (16%), Cardiff (19%) and Newport (23%).

South Wales Fire and Rescue is now working with Crimestoppers and the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner to reduce the number of attacks and bring offenders to justice.

Image caption The attacks go "beyond reason" said Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert

Matthew Jones, head of the fire crime unit in south Wales, said their job was to "save lives and protect property".

"Firefighters put their lives on the line to keep communities safe and to be treated with such a lack of respect sometimes is, quite frankly, appalling," he said.

A North Wales Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said attacks on their firefighters were "rare when considering the number of calls they attend each year".

She said: "We will not tolerate abuse or attacks directed towards our staff".

"Members of staff responding to emergencies or delivering a community safety service are doing so to help and improve the communities we serve and should not be subjected to abuse of any nature."

A Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue spokesman said the service has a "zero-tolerance approach to any attacks on our firefighters" and those responsible will be "reported, caught and dealt with accordingly by the police".

Image caption Objects thrown at firefighters include bricks and fireworks

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