Paramedics in the south of England will receive “restraint training” because there are not enough police to respond to dangerous callouts, as Tory cuts to the police numbers continue to be felt across the country.
At a recent South Western Ambulance Trust board meeting it was noted that the trust has decided to instigate restraint training for ambulance staff due in part to a reduction in police responses to incidents where they are needed to restrain people.
The minutes of the meeting state: “The Chief Executive highlighted that the Trust had not moved to restraint training for staff for some time, however, two things had happened which had led the Trust to now move to restraint training.
“One had been that police response to an incident to restrain a member of the public had reduced, therefore, the risk to staff would be increased.”
Since the Tories came into power in 2010, the number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by around 21,000 or 14 per cent.
During the same period, the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) have been slashed by more than 40 per cent.
Responding to use of restraint training by South Western Ambulance Trust, Unite regional officer Nick Bailey said, “This development has been generated by the drop in police numbers nationally, which is down to the Tory austerity cuts.
“Paramedics are now expected to fill in for that shortfall in police numbers – this is another responsibility our already hard-pressed members will have to absorb into their very busy shifts.
“We will be having discussions with our members on this proposal and relaying their professional concerns to the trust’s management in the near future.”
Paramedic and Unite executive council health delegate Stephen Thompson said training ambulance staff in restraint techniques will increase attacks against them.
He explained, “I think the dangerous thing with this development is that the demarcation line that separates ambulance and police will either become blurred or eroded.
“This will lead to more staff being targeted as the (already reduced) respect for us disappears and we are viewed in the same light as police officers.”