Fines for blocking emergency vehicles

PUBLISHED: 05:09 22 February 2007 | UPDATED: 21:34 29 May 2010

People could face fines

People could face fines

PEOPLE obstructing emergency crews in Dunmow face tougher penalties under legislation introduced on Tuesday. The Home Office has introduced new offences that mean that anyone who gets in the way of workers responding to emergencies can now be prosecuted a

PEOPLE obstructing emergency crews in Dunmow face tougher penalties under legislation introduced on Tuesday.

The Home Office has introduced new offences that mean that anyone who gets in the way of workers responding to emergencies can now be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £5000.

Although police officers are already protected under separate law, ambulance and fire service staff will benefit from the revised measures.

Dunmow fire station manager Keith Crow said: "This is a good thing to bring in. Fortunately we don't actually have too much of a problem in Dunmow.

"The last time we had any real problems with people interfering with us doing our job was when we had to go to the travellers' site in Little Dunmow a little while back.

"I know the crews down in the Basildon area have more of a problem and were even shot at by kids with an air rifle a little while ago.

"The government had to do something to make things better. Whether this solves any of the problems, we will have to wait and see."

Paul Leaman, chief operating officer for the East of England Ambulance Service in Essex, said: "We are pleased to welcome the act.

"Very often when ambulance crews go to treat patients or convey them to hospital, every second counts, so the introduction of consequences for the minority of people who impede this life-saving work is a great step forward."

Violence against emergency workers can be dealt with under existing laws, such as assault or actual bodily harm.

Sentencing guidelines stipulate that the court should impose tougher sentences for offences committed against public sector workers.

Home office minister Gerry Sutcliffe, said: "The government is committed to ensuring the safety of those serving their communities.

"Too often emergency workers are unable to get to incidents as quickly as they should due to a minority of people obstructing their rescue efforts.

"This seriously impacts on both the emergency workers' ability to do their jobs and, even more worryingly, on those who require an emergency response. In some instances a delay of just a couple of minutes can have terrible consequences.

"Such behaviour will not be tolerated and deliberate attempts to obstruct or prevent emergency workers, or anyone assisting them, from doing their very difficult jobs, will face a stiff penalty.

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