A CALL for body cameras to be worn by all firefighters has been made by fire chiefs.

In recent years there has been a surge in attacks on firefighters across the country.

Figures show they have been the victims of physical and verbal assaults. However, it's not just crew members - the attacks have been directed at all frontline officers during lockdown.

Attacks on firefighters in England rose by two-thirds from 578 to 961 between 2014/5 and 2018/9, with almost 10 percent of the incidents involving harassment or physical abuse, the latest Home Office data shows.

To reverse the trend, which has worsened in many areas since lockdown, fire commanders are calling for a national rollout of body-worn cameras to aid in court prosecutions of assaults.

The drive is being led by Chris Lowther, chair of the national operations committee at the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), which estimates just under half of the UK’s 53 fire services currently use the devices.

He is consulting with the Attorney General’s office, along with other emergency services representatives, to double the minimum 12 month sentence for attacks on emergency workers.

This became a specific crime in 2018, but only 17 percent of the 9000 offenders sentenced for it have received an immediate custodial sentence.

Fire bosses fear abuse of their officers will continue to rise if a “zero-tolerance” policy is not helped to be introduced by ministers, who are still deliberating the proposals.

Thankfully for Cumbria violence toward firefighters is uncommon but area manager Nathaniel Hooton said: “Any attack on any emergency service worker is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“In Cumbria, I’m not aware of any such attacks but that doesn’t say they haven’t happened.

“At the moment we have CCTV on all of our appliances but we would consider this as an option if the need arose.”

Disappointed to see the rise in this type of crime, he hopes that the work they do in the community is making a difference and that is the reason Cumbria is not suffering from the rise.

Mr Hooton continued: “We’re here to serve and protect, we want to help people and be part of the community and I think we do a good job. But, I struggle with the mindset of these people who attack emergency service workers.

“I hope we can educate enough people that this stops and we don’t have to wear body cameras but it will be considered if we see a rise.

“We’re proud to be part of Cumbria and we’re proud to be part of our communities and I hope we continue to be well supported.”

Chris Lowther a Chief Fire Officer said: “The safety of my firefighters is my number one priority. If anyone attacks our crews we use the footage from the body worn cameras to seek prosecution of the mindless offenders.”