THE fact that firefighters can regularly come under attack from yobs, and others, speaks volumes about the epidemic of low-level lawlessness which now exists on the country’s streets – these are individuals who regularly risk their lives to rescue those who find themselves in great danger.
Pillars of society, they don’t discriminate – one of the claims made in the aftermath of the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy which continues to haunt the emergency services to this day. They treat everyone as equals, as West Yorkshire FBU leader Dave Gillian makes clear in The Yorkshire Post today, and anything less would be a betrayal of their profession and its values.
It also explains Mr Gillian’s more measured response to calls, from MPs and others, for sentencing guidelines to be toughened up still further so those convicted of assaulting fire personnel – incidents are invariably more prevalent prior to Bonfire Night on November 5 – feel the full weight of the law and are jailed for up to a year.
Mr Gillian, who was temporarily blinded when a firework was thrown at him in November 2016 while he was on duty in Keighley, believes the majority of perpetrators come from deprived areas that have been “starved of opportunity”. He believes the answer is to invest in youth services and education rather than “gesture politics”. Yet, while his magnanimity might not be universally shared, he makes an important point – the Government will be letting down firefighters, and other emergency workers, if it does not look again at how best to educate the tiny minority who still show such little respect for society.