Assaulting emergency workers is not, and never will be, acceptable.

That is the message from a number of services after repeated attacks on hardworking police officers, prison staff and health workers that have been reported in recent weeks.

We spoke to representatives in these fields to find out the impact such incidents have.

Healthcare and hospital staff

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, regional director for north Wales at Llais (which replaced the North Wales Community Health Council earlier this year), said such attacks make it more and more difficult to recruit and retain hospital staff.

He explained: "These incidents have a grave effect on staff, and unfortunately they see a lot of them.

"The A&E is a very stressful environment and they do such good work to help people in pain.

"This sort of thing just makes people not want to work in that environment - I've heard it time and time again from staff.

"These incidents make it more and more difficult for staff working in those departments, as well as making things worse for other patients - and the individuals carrying it out.

"People really do need to think about this."

Mr Ryall-Harvey acknowledged there is a distinction between people wilfully abusing frontline workers, those committing offences under the influence of drugs or alcohol - or those suffering mental health difficulties.

However, he emphasised, at no point are the staff on the receiving end trying to upset or restrict patients.

They are simply trying to help patients, and deserve to do so without fear of abuse or assault.

Rhyl Journal: Wrexham Maelor HospitalWrexham Maelor Hospital (Image: Staff)

Elin Gwynedd, Chief of Staff at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “Our staff work incredibly hard to care for people who are receiving treatment in our hospitals and I would like to thank them for their continued dedication and commitment to our patients, sometimes in the most trying of circumstances.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy against violence, aggression or abuse towards our staff while they are carrying out their duties, and all staff are provided full support following any incident.

"We have guidance documents, training and security staff to protect against violence, aggression or abuse towards our staff while they are carrying out their duties. We will do everything we can to protect our colleagues, including using the full weight of the law where it is appropriate.

“We understand people who need our care are often in pain and are going through a worrying and stressful time, and because of that, tensions can sometimes run high. However, there is simply no excuse for verbal or physical abuse against our hard-working staff, as well as upsetting other patients within the hospital who witness any abusive behaviour."

Prison workers

Sadly, attacks against prison officers have also come before the courts several times this year.

A recent case saw an officer headbutted in the face - causing a great deal of worry to his family and injury to the officer himself.

A Government spokesman said: “Violence against emergency workers – including our prison staff – is never tolerated. That’s why we doubled the maximum penalty to up to two years imprisonment for assaults on emergency workers.”

Rhyl Journal: HMP BerwynHMP Berwyn (Image: Staff)

The spokesman also confirmed 'extensive mental health support', including a 24-hour helpline, confidential counselling, and online wellbeing services are provided to staff.

Every prison officer in England and Wales also now has access to a body-worn video camera while on shift to help keep them safe and cut prison violence.

And to protect staff and prisoners in very serious assaults, the government continues to roll out PAVA – a synthetic pepper spray – in the adult male estate to protect staff and prisoners from incidents of serious violence alongside de-escalation training for officers.

Police officers

And let's not forget our police officers - who face all kinds of challenging situations every day.

A North Wales Police spokesman said: "Being assaulted is not and never will be just part of the job. No assault on any emergency service worker is ever acceptable.

“Police officers are resilient individuals who face danger and unpleasant tasks on a daily basis but when they are assaulted whilst doing their job, it has an impact. The scars, both physically and psychologically, can last forever.

“We ask members of the public to continue to stand with and support their police officers, staff and volunteers, who attend work every day and face danger in order help and protect you.”

Rhyl Journal: North Wales PCC Andy DunbbinNorth Wales PCC Andy Dunbbin (Image: OPCC)

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin said: "I am always saddened to hear when police officers and other emergency workers are assaulted in the line of duty.

"These are professionals who do their duty day-in, day-out serving the public, and I know that the vast majority of the residents of North Wales support them and thank them for everything they do to keep us safe.

"Everyone should have the right to do their job without the fear of being attacked, but for emergency workers these attacks can mean that they can be out of action at a time when public services are already stretched.

"Then there are the costs of following up and prosecuting for the Police and the Courts, and the huge emotional cost to those on the front line and their families.

"It is up to us to show them our support and our determination to see that these attacks stop and that those who commit them are investigated and punished accordingly.”